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McAfee VirusScan upgrade hobbles Lotus Notes

Upgrading to latest version of McAfee VirusScan Enterprise can lock Lotus Notes users out of their e-mail. McAfee is investigating.

People who use both IBM Lotus Notes and McAfee VirusScan Enterprise may want to hold off on upgrading to the latest version of the McAfee software.

Installing McAfee VirusScan Enterprise 8.5i on a PC that also runs the Lotus Notes e-mail client can lock people out of their mailboxes, the two companies have confirmed. Lotus Notes is a commonly used e-mail application, particularly in larger organizations. McAfee, the world's second-largest antivirus company, released VirusScan Enterprise 8.5i late November.

"The upgrade locks people out and is causing Notes errors where we can not even restart Notes, but need to reinstall," said one IT administrator for a California company, who asked not to be identified. "This issue has created a higher-than-normal demand on our helpdesk; the cost to our company due to this issue is increasing every hour."

McAfee and IBM have both published support notices on the problem. The issue affects systems running Lotus Notes versions 6 and 7, according to the notices.

After working with Lotus Notes for several hours, an error message will pop up: "You are not authorized to perform that operation," according to the undated McAfee alert. The pop-up can be closed, but the user won't be able to do anything else in Notes until it is closed and restarted, McAfee said. The same error will then reoccur later, it said.

"The problem is limited to a few customers running Lotus Notes who have installed the latest version of McAfee VirusScan," a McAfee representative said in a statement Monday. "McAfee's engineering team is working hard to resolve this issue and the company is keeping customers informed of developments."

McAfee currently has no definitive solution. As a workaround, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company suggests in its support article disabling the "scan all server databases" and "scan server mailboxes" features in its product.

IBM in its support note lists another workaround: "Completely disable the antivirus software."

"We take product support issues very seriously and will work hard to examine this situation to help our customers resolve it," an IBM Lotus software division representative said Monday.

At the California company that experienced the issues, support staffers are rolling back installations of McAfee VirusScan. "Our only action that worked was to remove 8.5 and downgrade to 8.0i," the IT administrator said.