Certified Security Operations Center GmbH

17. May 2024

The case of a nonexistent incident

Cybersecurity systems are crucial in today’s digital landscape to protect against numerous cyber threats lurking on the internet. These systems are designed to detect potential security incidents early, preventing harm to both businesses and individuals. However, even the best security measures are not immune to occasional errors or false alarms.

Recently, an example of such a false alarm occurred when a customer reported a suspected security incident that ultimately turned out to be a false alarm. The customer was using both McAfee antivirus software and Windows Defender on their system. This seemingly redundant security configuration led to an unfortunate conflict where Windows Defender incorrectly identified the McAfee software as malware.

This conflict resulted in a security system blockage that appeared to be a serious security incident. However, the cause of the false alarm was not a genuine threat but rather a technical misunderstanding between the two security applications. While it is known that running two antivirus programs simultaneously can lead to conflicts, Windows Defender is supposed to deactivate automatically when another antivirus program is installed. In this specific case, however, this logic seemed not to apply, and both programs attempted to operate concurrently, causing mutual interference.

This incident underscores the importance of careful configuration and monitoring of security systems to avoid false alarms and ensure the effectiveness of security measures. Businesses and individuals should ensure that their security applications are properly configured and compatible with each other to minimize the risk of false alarms and to ensure that genuine security incidents are not overlooked.

To avoid such incidents in the future, we recommend the following measures:

  • It is advisable to install only one antivirus program to avoid conflicts.
  • Regularly review the settings of your security software to ensure it is properly configured.
  • In case of uncertainty or alerts, contact your security service provider immediately.

It is evident that security systems are essential for protection, yet they too can be faulty or trigger false alarms. This case underscores that quantity is not more helpful than quality, and more does not necessarily lead to better outcomes. However, every alarm could potentially indicate a genuine security incident and should be investigated and taken seriously. As cyber attacks become more sophisticated and harder to detect, each alarm should be scrutinized to rule out a security breach.