Millions of Businesses Struck Down By a New Year Bug

A glitch in Microsoft’s email service caused problems with mail delivery when clocks struck midnight on January 1st 2022, with the fear of digital disaster hitting the headlines around the world! Many organisations reported that emails were stuck in queues instead of being sent after the date changed to 2022. Even Honda and Acura cars were hit with the bug that resets the navigation system’s clock to January 1st, 2002. Terrified by the Y2K bug, which had plagued tech workers at the turn of the century, a new variant called “Y2K22″ emerged as an impending threat.

Fortunately, Microsoft came up with a fix and released both automated and manual updates against it. The date check failure, specifically in Exchange servers, was the cause of the issue and not malware scanning or its engine, “The problem relates to a date check failure with the change of the new year and is not a failure of the AV engine itself. The version checking performed against the signature file is causing the malware engine to crash, resulting in messages being stuck in transport queues,” Microsoft explained.

To solve this issue, administrators worldwide had to disable virus scanning so mail could be processed properly. However, this meant users and possibly servers might have been left vulnerable. Fortunately, there were no reported attacks from this vulnerability. Still, Microsoft highlighted that disabling virus scanning should be a last resort, “You should use one of these workarounds only if you have an existing malware scanner for email other than the engine in Exchange Server,” Microsoft said. 101 Data Solutions can discuss options available to businesses should a crisis arise again.

Administrators had to either implement the fix manually or apply an automated script. However, it was not a quick fix, and many emails were stuck in the queue for long periods before messages landed in their intended recipients’ inboxes. In addition, a software update in Microsoft’s anti-malware scanning software, combined with the fact that messages were being queued up and checked rather than scanned, may have caused problems for some companies. For example, one managed service provider warned on Microsoft’s site they had seen a client queue of 10,000 messages in less than 24 hours. This is risky because if there are too many queued messages, it could fill up storage space on the server, leading to crashing business operations. 101 Data Solutions can advise on alternative storage solutions and ways to protect your business from losing data.

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