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Contributing Writer

McAfee Mishap

Apr 22, 20102 mins
Cisco SystemsData and Information SecurityMalware

What happened, why and what does it mean?

As a security analyst, I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten today badmouthing McAfee software and proposing alternative solutions. In the unforgiving security market, McAfee’s gaff is seen as an opportunity to pounce.McAfee customers are understandably angry. Systems went off line resulting in lost productivity for users and major firefighting for IT. So what happened? Anyone who writes or tests software, works in IT, or was ever employed at a software company know all too well. It was either a software error, a configuration setting problem, or a broken/missed test process that resulted in mass distribution of buggy code. Unfortunately for McAfee, its customer base became a huge and unknowing Beta site.I for one certainly understand why McAfee customers are upset but that said, I think we should all cut McAfee a little slack for several reasons:1. McAfee’s history suggests that this was an exception and not the rule. 2. The objective of endpoint security is to find places where the bad guys hide. This is an extremely difficult task as cybercriminals are constantly looking for all of the dark alleys in Windows, IE, Adobe, etc. False positives are nothing new in security. Security is an endless cat-and-mouse game. The bad guys know what they are doing while the good guys can only guess what they’ll do. In this process, there is sometimes collateral damage as in all conflicts fought on multiple fronts.I empathize with McAfee users who were impacted and understand their frustration — some security and IT operations people probably had a very long night. As for competitors, I believe it is best not to kick sand in McAfee’s face as in spite of your best efforts, a similar incident could happen to any security firm — or software vendor — at any time.

Contributing Writer

Jon Oltsik is a distinguished analyst, fellow, and the founder of the ESG’s cybersecurity service. With over 35 years of technology industry experience, Jon is widely recognized as an expert in all aspects of cybersecurity and is often called upon to help customers understand a CISO's perspective and strategies. Jon focuses on areas such as cyber-risk management, security operations, and all things related to CISOs.

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