NAI gets ready to take on the Y2K computer

Network Associates (NAI) isn't thinking about partying the night away on New Year's Eve, even if it is the dawn of the next millennium. Instead, the antivirus software vendor is worrying that Y2K viruses are going to mess up the fun.

"We track virus writers and their user groups, and there's a lot of talk about creating Y2K viruses to hide under the umbrella of Y2K," frets Sal Viveros, group marketing manager for the NAI product Total Virus Defense.

People in general are wondering if their computers or applications are going to fail to operate correctly because of the well-publicised Y2K bug.

Viveros says that his team expects to see malicious pranksters exploit this Y2K anxiety by sending out Christmas card e-mail attachments. When the e-mail attachment is opened it infects the victim's computer with a virus that will make the system crash on December 31. "Or perhaps on January 3, the first Monday everybody is back at work," Viveros adds.

These Y2K viruses would make it seem as though the user had a Y2K problem, but in reality, the user would have a virus problem, Viveros says.

To combat this, NAI is beefing up its antivirus software heuristics with what it calls Y2K ViruLogic. ViruLogic will check incoming mail for certain content, such as time and date information, which might suggest a virus. ViruLogic will be available from the Web site http://www.nai.com/ later in the fall. In addition, NAI is planning a link to another informational site it is creating, http://www.avertingY2Kviruses.com/.

The antivirus software developer says it is also organising support services that would let customers call to ask questions about malfunctioning computers and possible Y2K viruses.

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