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Viruses Spreading on the Internet

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RALEIGH — March 6 is Michelangelo's birthday. That's a bit of trivia, but it scares some computer users. The reason? A virus named Michelangelo triggers on March 6th.

There's been little trouble with that virus recently, but as WRAL OnLine reporter Tom Lawrence explains, viruses are growing in number and spreading on the Internet.

They are called strange names: ambulance, devil, Phantom... even green caterpillar. Viruses can eat up memory, slow your computer, attack and destroy your data.

Symantec's Anti-Virus Research Center tracks viruses and works out cures. Other companies producing anti-virus software do the same thing.

A problem almost as critical: fake viruses and hoaxes spread by e-mail. I talked with two anti-virus experts by satellite. Alex Haddox says hoaxes are quite challenging.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."In some cases hoaxes are more challenging than real viruses because we can take action against real viruses. The biggest problem is that they come from friends. So they have an immediate credibility. And so it's very, very difficult once you tell somebody that it's a virus, hoax and it doesn't exist to spread the message back up the chain because people are afraid of looking foolish for falling for it."What's the most common way for viruses to spread from computer to computer?

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."Attachments to e-mail are a primary way usually it's a report or a document attached to an e-mail sent out to a very broad distribution list inside a company."Viruses don't just happen. They are written for fun or mischief. Mike Ellison uses his know how to fight viruses, but he used to create them. What's the challenge?

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."I don't know. It's a mountain to climb. It's something to figure out."Using anti virus software and keeping it up to date is your best protection against viruses. And be careful opening attachments to e-mail from people you don't know.

Viruses can also be spread by trading data on floppy disks. However, networking and the Internet are the major pipeline for virus transmission. So it's better to be safe than sorry. Run anti-virus software on your machine.


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