On Friday I wrote about the issues McAfee had with a virus definition file that caused significant PC problems when it took a critical Windows OS file as a threat. What resulted was hundreds if not thousands of system being disabled. This in turn disrupted businesses and individuals that continues on today as they try to recover from the actions of McAfee’s anti-virus software.

The bad virus definition file was released on 21 April and finally on Friday the 23rd, McAfee’s CEO, David DeWalt, released an open letter on McAfee’s Security Insights Blog talking about the issue.

As many of you know all too well, last Wednesday, April 21, while responding to a new global threat to Windows PCs that attacks critical operating system components, a system error—specifically, the release of a faulty DAT file—caused some of our customers’ computers to shut down until they could be repaired and rebooted.

We deeply regret the impact this may have had on you. In some cases, the outages were lengthy. Even among the vast majority of customers who did not experience operating disruptions, the mere possibility created an unwelcome distraction and reason for concern.

He goes on to explain the companies response but based on reading the comments of what at least appears to be real companies impacted by this problem it is too little too late.  Many do not understand why it took two days for this response to come out.

There is no reason to believe that McAfee was not working this issue as soon as it came to their attention however, in today’s social media age an overload of information via Twitter and Facebook for instance may have helped with the public relations side of things.

There were a grand total of four tweets between 21 – 23 April concerning the false positive and those were links to stories on the McAfee’s Security Insights Blog. On their Facebook McAfee Support page there was one entry about an emergency DAT update (5959) to replace the bad file. Prior to last week this page had not been updated since December 2009.

I am also not sure that McAfee’s customers were worried whether or not you spent 14 hours on the phone talking to people world wide about the issue. They would probably rather hear about the work your doing and not the suffering your going through because of the mistake your company made.

I think they should have overloaded their customers with information on Twitter and Facebook just to be transparent about their efforts to get customers back online.

I get a quicker response from Home Depot or COMCAST when I tweet about an issue and they reply to me within 20-30 minutes. That is effective use of media avenues to help customers and they understand the importance of acknowledging an issue for their customers in order to protect their brand.

McAfee on the other hand missed the boat on this one from many perspectives. They need to learn from this or be destined to fight the same concerns in the future.