SAN FRANCISCO (05/30/2000) - The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation recently warned of a new virus that wipes out the victim machine's hard drive, then uses its modem to dial 911. The virus attacks only Windows systems, fortunately, but the Mac has its share of viruses, and the severity of computer security attacks of all kinds is on the rise. More than ever, users must arm their systems with the latest virus-detection and disinfection software.
Network Associates Inc.'s Virex 6.1 helps keep your electronic vaccinations current-by downloading new virus definitions, scheduling regular checkups, and maintaining a "patient chart" tracking your system's health-to catch infections early.
Virex consists of an application to scan all your hard drives and a control panel that automatically checks new files brought into your system via removable disk or network connection. Virex can optionally scan shared volumes when they're mounted, and even compressed files as they're downloaded. Version 6.1 remains unobtrusive and efficient, scanning silently away in the background and using spare CPU cycles when it can. Network Associates has cleaned up Virex's interface, making it easy even for computer newbies to operate.
The first time you run Virex, it records the status of all your files; subsequent scans examine only files that are new or have changed. The new release enhances Virex's scheduling feature: you can now schedule multiple events, choosing which volumes you want to scan and repair. You can also schedule automatic downloading of Virex's virus definitions. In our tests, Virex added a month's worth of new detection and repair rules in just a few minutes.
The new release lets you lock your Virex settings safely away under password protection-an excellent security feature for corporate LANs, preventing users from bypassing network-protection policies. The new Snapshot tool lets you record the complete state of all your files and then compare them over time.
Viruses often infect many files on a host system simultaneously; the Snapshot feature detects such wholesale changes and alerts you to the possibility of a hitherto unknown infection.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Virex 6.1 improves on the clean interface of previous releases and adds a slew of new features: live updates, sophisticated scheduling, and early warning of new or mutant infectious agents. It still requires a hefty amount of start-up RAM (more than 1MB), but RAM is cheap. Speed improvements and a streamlining of its interface make Virex simple to use and therefore likely to be used often.
Viruses are a serious threat to your computer's health; Virex can keep it safe without becoming a pain in the injection site.
RATING: 4.0 mice
PROS: Unobtrusive operation; sophisticated scheduling tool; fast and easy live updates; Snapshot feature.
CONS: Large RAM hit for background operation.
COMPANY: Network Associates (800/338-8754, http://www.nai.com).
LIST PRICE: $50.