back to article Avast blocks the entire internet – again

An Avast software update pushed out on Wednesday is preventing web access for at least some devices running the firm's freebie anti-malware software. Users affected by the problem have started threads (here and here among others) on Avast's support forum. El Reg learnt of the issue through reader Michael S. "Non tech savvy …

  1. Mark 110

    "Avast blocks the entire internet – again - Now that's cast-iron antivirus"

    The first computer virus I ever got infected with was off a 3.5" floppy - just saying :-)

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Yeah, me too

      Its payload was a message saying "Something wonderful has happened Your AMIGA is alive!!!"

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Same here. I cannot recall which virus it was but it had a detonation date to wipe everything, was adding stuff to all MS-DOS .EXE and .COM files and spreading as floppies were passed between sites. At the time 'getting infected' seemed mostly a myth, few knew of anyone who had been.

      I was the lucky bugger who got to check every floppy in the company; hundreds. And, as Sod's Law would have it, it was the last one in the box which was the source for the original infection; a Driver Disk shipped with some peripheral equipment we had purchased.

      That was in the Good Old Days (TM) when Scotland Yard had a Computer Forensics Division one was encouraged to report infections to. Then, as now, nothing seemed to come of it when one did.

    3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      (c)Brain

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      The first computer virus I ever got infected with was off a 3.5" floppy

      I think I still have an old floppy disk (can't remember whether it's a 5" or 3.5") with a nice copy of the FORM virus on it..

    5. JCitizen
      Coffee/keyboard

      !st computer virus..

      @Mark 110 - chances are the 1st antivirus I ever had was Avast as it is probably the oldest one I've ever used. This is certainly the most serious issue I've ever heard of in regard to Alwil's fine free software. I've not heard reports from any of my clients. However I have had to use the "Avast clear" tool to get new versions of Avast to work properly, so it is not perfect. At least it doesn't blow up peoples computers like so many of the other brands out there.

      To my best knowledge G-Data was the very 1st anti-virus, and probably wasn't called that in its inception. I believe Atari may have been the company that developed it.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. malle-herbert
    Facepalm

    It probably thought...

    SVCHOST.EXE was a piece of spyware trying to connect to the internet !

    Oh wait...

  4. Frank Bitterlich
    Devil

    Email from the future

    I just received an email from the not-too-distant future. I reads:

    > It's unclear how widespread the problem is.

    Avast has been receiving reports that a very small percentage of our users are affected by a minor issue today.

    > Avast's PR reps have acknowledged our requests for comment but are yet to supply a substantive response.

    The security of our users and their equipment is very important to us. We're sorry that you can't access the web any more. To fix this problem, please visit our knowledgebase at http://....

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: Email from the future

      speculative future PR guff from Avast: "...Avast has been receiving reports that a very small percentage of our users are affected by a minor issue today...."

      Though to be fair, it sounds as if only a small proportion of their userbase will be able to report their problems

  5. sz54c8

    Breaks OpenDNS as well...

    Avast has a tendency to arbitrarily override my OpenDNS settings I have set for the kids' machines. Not really what you want to see from a security software provider, removing your security settings...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of the time...

    I was working as a contractor and used to get in at 7am on a Monday to avoid the traffic.

    Went to login to my allocated e-mail PC and got a "you must change your password now" message. Several attempts later I was still being told to change it and there was no way to bypass, so I waited for the support desk to open at 8:30.

    I explained the problem and was asked "didn't you get the e-mail telling you to ignore the message?". I replied that I was not able to get past the message to get to my e-mail. "Oh, it's going to be a busy morning" came the reply...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reminds me of the time...

      I can go one better ...

      A supplier had their emergency operating plan stored securely on-site, in a fire-safe.

      Unfortunately, the emergency that happened was a murder in the business park meaning the police cordoned off all the offices and refused to let anyone in....

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of the time...

        that's just pure genius. There were so many ways that could of gone wrong other than murder. Like natural disasters , fire, plane hitting the building.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There were so many ways that could of gone wrong

          I once pointed out that the Business Continuity Plan for an employer had a section for alien invasion - as indeed *all* good BCPs should.

          OK, it wasn't referenced as a specific event. But if it had happened, we had a plan.

          1. kain preacher Silver badge

            Re: There were so many ways that could of gone wrong

            What no plans for zombies ?

    2. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me of the time...

      What you heard was the sound of an oh shit moment.

  7. Kevin Johnston

    All HTTP requests are blocked from all applications including Windows Update

    So many good jokes possible from just this one line

    Must..Resist..Win10

  8. Barry Rueger

    Who's the Joker?

    Stories like this are why a lot of truly important information is stored behind me, on paper, in big three-ring binders.

    So much of the Internet, much less "the Cloud," seems to be a house of cards, built on sand, over an earthquake fault line.

    Sooner or later, through malice or incompetence, the day will come when the whole thing comes crashing down.

    Losing LastPass will be the least of your problems.

  9. Ian Emery Silver badge

    More info required

    Avast user here - no issues at all (Win7 Pro with no Win updates beyond SP1 as one keeps blocking the OS SATA port - which obviously stops anything from working).

    Strangely, a Linux Mint disc can force its way through the block, even when MSDOS cannot.

    1. DJ Smiley

      Re: More info required

      Is your linux mint disk running Avast...?

  10. Runilwzlb

    Its not a bug, its a feature.

    "AVAST blocks the Entire Internet..."

    Soon to save the world from itself by rolling it out in Android and IOS.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Its not a bug, its a feature.

      Hmm, already saw a user earlier who's personal phone wasn't letting them connect to wifi with Avast for Android on. No internet over 4G either.

      I am wondering if the issue is related (As its a personal phone I didn't want to go about removing their security software)

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Windows

    So, computer in splendid isolation..

    and you need to get the fix from the intertubes. Hello sneaker net!

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: So, computer in splendid isolation..

      and you need to get the fix from the intertubes. Hello sneaker net!

      That was how I did my first linux install (slackware 0.99pl15) - where I worked had no internet and my access at home was.. intermittent.

      So a friend of mine, who worked somewhere where they had a t1 connected to internet, downloaded all the slackware floppy images and wrote them to a stack of floppies I supplied.

      As I discovered during the install, there was a reason why those floppies were being thrown out - random read errors due to utterly crap quality control.

      So I'd be doing the install and on floppy 5 I'd get lots of "unable to read disc" errors. So I'd give my friend a few more floppies and ask him to write that floppy image to a few discs.

      Eventually the install completed after about a week. And then (after a night spent setting everything up, including modem dial-on-demand) I managed to type rm -rf in the wrong place and had to start again.

      But at least this time I had a set of usable discs.

  12. mstreet
    Happy

    "An Avast update pushed out six years ago classified the whole web as malign"

    Then perhaps we should be congratulating them for their prescience.

  13. JCDenton

    Solution: Uninstall Avast, don't reinstall

    Avast is such buggy garbage. 5 years ago it was fine, now it is too much hassle to be worth the minor protective it provides.

    Also, when they say "uninstall Avast", make sure to use the Avast cleaner application after. You can't trust its own uninstaller these days.

  14. Steve Aubrey
    Joke

    Dear El Reg editors

    You report in the story that

    ==> An Avast update pushed out six years ago classified the whole web as malign, as we reported at the time.

    This could not be. I did not see the story then. I distinctly remember trying to read El Reg that day, but I couldn't, because I couldn't reach the inte--

    Oh.

    Never mind.

    1. anody

      Re: Dear El Reg editors

      You report in the story that

      ==> An Avast update pushed out six years ago classified the whole web as malign

      I would agree with this statement.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Avast has form for this sort of thing

    Form for this sort of thing too:

    "Avast – another anti-virus big-hitter – recently announced plans to make use of anonymised user data to develop marketing analytics through a spin-off called Jumpshot. This is not quite the same thing as what AVG is doing – not least because it doesn’t involve third-party ad brokers – but it might still be seen as moving in the same direction of travel of monetising users’ data as as way of offsetting flat or declining anti-malware software sales."

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/14/avg_anon_data_brokering_analysis/

    1. petef

      Re: Avast has form for this sort of thing

      Avast completed their acquisition of AVG last October.

  16. Alistair Silver badge
    Pirate

    checking calendar

    Nope, not internet pirates day.

    Darn.

    Avast me maties!

    1. JCDenton

      Re: checking calendar

      top comment

  17. Orv Silver badge

    Web Shield is just plain a bad idea. It's a transparent proxy, and they always have issues. I had to turn it off because it would block TCP connections that fell in the port range it associated with web traffic, if their contents didn't resemble HTML.

  18. Delbert

    Good Idea?

    The way Windows updates are foisting unwanted, none - optional "features" onto users it could actually be a good thing.

  19. davews

    Despite the headline it seems this only effected a VERY small number of users who after a reinstall have sorted out their problem. I have been using the latest version for the past week and have absolutely no issues (but I don't use their web shield). Maybe El Reg should check their facts before producing articles like this.

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      That reminds me of the time Norton sent out an unsigned update and when everyone tried to report it on the Norton forum the forum blocked the messages as spam. So many people affected that it must be spam. When people saw their messages being deleted they became alarmed. Further investigation reveled Norton was connecting to a dodgy server in South Africa. Meanwhile Norton are telling people that only a few people are having the problem,

    2. Eltonga
      Trollface

      Well, yeah, we all know the drill: "It works fine on my machine..."

    3. JCitizen
      Alert

      @ davews

      I have better luck with Avast's web shield than trying to use NoScript - webmasters pump so many scripts out now that NoScript is virtually worthless.

  20. Securitymoose

    Blocks Windows Updates? Bravo Avast

    So it's not all bad news then. Give them a gold star if you've sat about waiting for Microsoft to download some more bloatware, reboot and then wait some more to log in while they do more of their butchering of your device.

    Perhaps we can get Avast to block all those other sites that harvest our information to share with spammers and con artists when they leave the database on a taxi seat.

  21. Infernoz Bronze badge
    Flame

    I thought Avast maybe better than WTF false+ Avira, because reviews, but WTF issues too!

    So uninstalled already.

    Even Windows anti-virus was compromised because WTF exploitable. You'd think anti-virus providers could use cloud fuzz testing to detect this crap and exploits!

  22. davidp231

    Memo to NHS IT Staff

    After clearup is complete, install this AV - lack of Internet access will prevent re-infection.

  23. herman Silver badge

    Don't wanna crypt

    Avast was just being pro-active against wannacry.

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