Anti-virus software a good post-Christmas gift

Jan. 21, 2001



Computer viruses are making the rounds once again.

At my own office, a warning about the Snow White virus arrived recently. Someone contracted the virus and sent it to a long list of people in the person's address book.

According to the Trend Micro anti-virus Web site, the Snow White virus is actually considered a "Trojan horse." It isn't a destructive virus, but it does alter some files in the Windows operating system.

Once in place an a victim's computer, the Snow White virus monitors incoming and outgoing e-mail, and it will attempt to e-mail itself as an attachment to any user e-mailed by user.

Cleaning an infected computer can be accomplished with most up-to-date anti-virus software packages.

For more information on viruses, visit Trend Micro's Web site at

MELISSA'S BACK. The old Melissa Microsoft Word macro virus has been making the rounds again. This virus -- now called Melissa-X -- e-mails itself to 50 e-mail addresses found in the Windows Outlook program, and generated so much e-mail traffic the first time it hit it shut down e-mail servers across the nation.

According to the ZDNet Web site, the virus arrives as part of an e-mail message with the subject line "Important Message From (e-mail sender)."

The message text begins simply, "Here is that document you asked for ... don't show anyone else ;-)." A Word document will be attached to the e-mail.

If the user opens the attached file, his or her computer will become infected.

While it affects only users who send e-mail with Microsoft Outlook, the virus will remain on the user's computer, and can infect others computers if files are shared.

PROTECT YOURSELF. The best protection against any virus is up-to-date anti-virus software. There are a number of software companies that offer anti-virus software, and all of them include frequent updates to keep the protection they offer current.

Keeping the software up-to-date is an absolute necessity. New viruses show up daily, and anti-virus software companies issue frequent updates which can be downloaded via their Web sites.

But the best software isn't effective if it isn't used frequently. Most anti-virus programs have an option to automatically scan the computer during the start-up process, and this is a great way to keep those bugs in check.

Keep in mind that not all viruses arrive via the Internet. I've infected my system a number of times by using floppy disks from other users. If you share disks or files with other users, it's a good practice to scan them before using them.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AOL. The holidays were good to the world's largest Internet provider.

According to AOL Time Warner, America Online membership just surpassed 27-million members.

The record for single-day growth was broken on Christmas Day, with more than 70,000 new subscribers -- most of those being new U.S. subscribers.

The company announced it passed the 26-million-member level just a month ago.

PC PRICE WAR. Now that new computer sales levels have fallen, consumers may get to see something of a price war between manufacturers.

PC manufacturer Gateway recently announced its plans to lower prices in a bid to win back consumers and boost lagging sales.

The company's computer sales have dropped 15 percent, it reported. In addition to lower prices, Gateway plans to layoff 3,000 workers.

Other PC makers -- also faced with lower sales -- are predicted to follow suit.

Lower than expected holiday sales have computer inventories high, so consumers might keep a sharp eye out for some impressive price cuts on the way, particularly on the mid- to upper-level models.

SUIT SETTLED. Ford Motor Co. and a Ford fanatic have settled their differences after a protracted court battle.

Robert Lane, a Dearborn, Mich., Mustang enthusiast, had a Web site -- -- devoted to rumors and the automaker's experimental projects.

I visited the site before Ford slapped Lane with lawsuits alleging he was publishing trade secrets and violating copyright laws.

The site was a Blue Oval fan's dream come true, with all sorts of news about possible projects -- aimed mainly at high performance projects -- the automaker was working on.

The sources for the information came primarily from leaked information from those associated with the projects.

In the settlement, Lane agreed not to publish entire Ford documents on the site, solicit company secrets or violate Ford copyrights.

Lane can still use internal information leaked to him about automaker's projects. Ford's spokesman said the automaker was concerned mainly with Lane's publication of certain proprietary information that Ford documents contained.

Visit Lane's site at

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