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BT Virus Protect Struggling to Work on Latest Mac OS Big Sur

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 5,616

Customers of UK ISP BT and its various home broadband packages, which come bundled with an included McAfee internet security solution called Virus Protect (can be installed on PCs, Android phones and tablets), are finding that the software fails to function properly or get updates on the latest release of Mac OS (v11 Big Sur).

Apple’s MacOS Big Sur update was officially released on 12th November 2020, and is free for all compatible Mac computers. The new release represents a major update and naturally that can sometimes introduce compatibility problems with older software.

BT Virus Protect, with licenses for 2 devices, comes as standard with all of the provider’s broadband packages, except Halo 2 with Fibre which comes with 15 devices. Unfortunately, customers who have installed this on their Mac OS computers have found various problems with the latest Big Sur update.

The issues range from users being unable to update the software, to repetitive pop-up messages, or finding that the firewall and real time scanning features don’t function properly. Various posts can be found about this on social media (Twitter, Facebook etc.) and there’s a long thread on BT’s Community Forum.

Example Complaint by craftycooky:

“I have exactly the same issue. spent hours on the phone last night. BT, told to call Apple. Called Apple, told to call Mcafee.

Mcafee wouldn’t help as SW is via BT not direct from them, but the did say the only Mcafee version that will work with Big Sur is 4.10. BT are supplying

Trying to find somebody in BT who understands this and will take responsibility has so far been impossible.

Raise a complaint, the more who do this the BT may actually listen.”

Example Complaint by bringbackmono:

“I’ve upgraded to Big Sur on my MacBook Pro and Mcafee keeps asking me to allow it to upgrade the software in Security & Privacy. I can’t see an option to actually allow Mcafee, other than the general choice to allow downloads from approved sources etc.

I’ve reinstalled BT Virus Protect/Mcafee but the issue is the same. The software tells me everything has installed successfully, all checks passed ok but then this pop up window keeps appearing asking me to make the allow action.”

Example Complaint by RMD:

“I have had exactly the same problem with similar outcomes. BT passed the buck to McAfee but when calling their office in Swindon I hit a brick wall getting a garbled American accent telling me to call back later.

A message was sent by BT several weeks ago warning of this problem but after calling both them and McAfee they both claimed to have no knowledge of this.

If this can’t be sorted out quickly I may resort to switching supplier when my contract ends.”

A quick look on the McAfee website reveals a message, which confirms that: “Real-Time Scanning, and the Firewall in your McAfee software will stop working if you upgrade to macOS Big Sur while still running McAfee security software version 4.9 or earlier.” The security firm actually released a new version (4.10) to fix this in October, but at the time BT’s own implementation was still based off an older release.

On 16th November 2020 a BT forum moderator, DavidM, finally responded to acknowledge and apologise for the problem. The moderator also promised that there would be a new version later that same day (BT Virus Protect version 4.10.00), which should rectify the problem.

DavidM, BT Forum Moderator, said:

“We have been in touch McAfee and they have confirmed that they are going to release an emergency patch, which will fix the setup issue. This will resolve the problem you are having with BT Virus Protect. We expect this to complete later today around 6pm.”

However, BT’s support agent noted that this doesn’t resolve the problem with McAfee’s firewall because this is “currently not available on macOS Big Sur … they are working as fast as they can to fix this, and we expect a fix for this planned for 1 December.” Despite this a number of BT’s customers reported that they couldn’t actually “update” to the operator’s latest release (i.e. it stayed at 4.9).

Once again a note on McAfee’s website gives some context to all this: “It is not possible to upgrade from an earlier version (such as 4.9) to version 4.10.00 or later. You must uninstall the older version, then install the new version.” As an addition to that we’d recommend rebooting your computer – both after uninstalling the old version and then once the new one has been installed, since otherwise the pop-up message may still show up.

Despite this some of BT’s customers continue to complain that they’ve been unable to update to the latest release or are being asked to set disk access permissions that don’t exist, although some people have found that trying to apply the new update several times in a row (restarting the computer between each attempt) did eventually get 4.10 to install.

A BT Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We’re sorry that some of our customers are experiencing problems with BT Virus Protect following the installation of the latest Mac OS release (Big Sur). McAfee has released an emergency patch, which has resolved the problems for some customers, and we’re working closely with McAfee to issue a fix expected in early December.

BT Virus Protect security features (such as Real-Time scanning, Scheduled scanning, and On-Demand scanning) will continue to work normally and protect the customer’s Mac. We’ll continue to keep our customers updated during this time.”

Just remember that the Firewall feature won’t be working properly until the next release in December, even though in some cases it may still show up as being ‘green’ (active). Credits to two of our readers, Chris and Mike, for highlighting the issue to us.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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13 Responses
  1. Pip says:

    I’ve never used any ISP’s “Free” security software. It’s the same old “One size fits all” approach which never does.

  2. Dominic Britt says:

    Don’t install this rubbish on Big Sur – it is not needed and is probably not well supported by BT

  3. daza says:

    Give them a break! They only had a year to prepare for this. /S

  4. Meadmodj says:

    McAfee launched 4.10 in October 2020 and probably failed to tell BT of the significance of the update. McAfee knew that it did not work on the Preview version and if it is still not right then that is a lack of effort. BT makes it difficult for itself by attempting to badge the software and maintaining their own process (cost/time).

    However I suspect Apple to be the biggest culprit. They simply proceed and expect all software providers to simply follow (Mac and iOS). People have become so used to updating their OS, even on ageing kit, it has become automatic. Catalina killed off a lot of significant apps, Big Sur finally kills off any 32 bit and as highlighted others are affected. New owners will be OK but those updating should consider it carefully. Big Sur is not an update its a step change.

    1. Carl says:

      You may be correct, but surely then it was incumbent on BT to inform its customer base of the shortcomings before users upgraded to Big Sur. Once complaints started rolling in it should have notified users immediately. That’s how good customer service is meant to work. Not to bury your head in the sand like an ostrich.

    2. Jack says:

      Completely agree Carl, BT’s forum is a great place to see where BT continue go wrong.

      Premium wifi sets that still don’t work 12 months on and all BT say is “an update is coming but can’t tell you when”

    3. Chris says:

      The previous os “Catalina” killed off 32 bit apps.

      Big Sur had made significant changes to the security posture meaning that firewalls no longer have the required low level access they had before, this means firewalls have to work with the big sur api’s to work instead of inserting themselves in a meaningful place to be fully active. That means that some Apple processes will bypass any firewall or VPN installed on big sur.


      On another note, Apple os’s have built in virus and malware protection that is silently updated on a frequent basis, so no real need to pay for AV. As an example apps are checked when run against apples database of good/bad software and the user is warned if there is malware/viruses detected.


      The built in protections can be overridden if needed, requires some clicking and faffing.

    4. Chris says:

      I should add that Apple now have the concept of a sealed os image that is unchangeable by the user or apps hence why low level kernel extensions are no longer able to be installed and firewalls etc are reliant on what interactivity Apple provide to them hence the need for security apps to be rewritten for big sur. Also means that Apple can and has chosen to bypass any 3rd party restrictions for their own apps.

      If you want a fully effective firewall and run big sur you need a separate firewall running between big sur and the internet connection.

  5. Matt Skipsey says:

    Sophos also have the same problem.
    They have emailed us multiple times saying “DO NOT UPGRADE” to Big Sur yet.
    Developers really on the back foot.
    Dev betas of the O/S have been around for a while….

  6. cdh1981 says:

    Why would you want it anyway, especially on a Mac.

  7. Colin Edwards says:

    I am still running OS High Sierra and have been experiencing the BT Virus Protect problem for over year. It is really annoying at the moment. A window asking for permission to load BT Virus Protect software continually pops up, followed by the Security & Privacy window. In the past, after a few attempts to allow BTVP it went away, but not this time! It has been going on for most of December. I can’t uninstall it, as it won’t open in the first place! This is getting so frustrating! I haven’t contacted BT, as they never seem to understanding are a waste of time.Help!

  8. Ronald R Marsh says:

    I am a BT customer and I’ve upgraded to Big Sur on my apple devices, Mini Mac and Iphone SE. Even my latest Christmas presents running on Big Sur are giving me problems. Mcafee keeps asking me to allow it to upgrade the software in Security & Privacy.

    I’ve reinstalled BT Virus protect, however, there is no change and its still the same. The software appears ok but I keep getting an annoying reminder to allow access.

  9. Brayden says:

    4 months… and Mcafee still hasn’t fixed their firewall?

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