When disaster strikes: how to survive the PC meltdown

As the hour of doom approaches, it's starting to look like the big bad Y2K problem will be no big deal after all. As long as we all remain calm, leave our money in the banks, and spend Saturday 1 January, sipping cold beer and watching cricket, tranquillity will undoubtedly prevail on earth. The Dalai Lama has even declared that 1/1/2000 will be a day like any other.

Of course, that hasn't stopped the antivirus software industry from discovering an insidious, and potentially lucrative, new threat: Y2K hoax viruses. Hackers are cooking up viruses that use millennium bug warnings as a ruse to trick users into infecting their systems. A Symantec antivirus researcher stated publicly that as many as 200,000 such viruses could afflict us by the turn of the century. And Network Associates dedicates a Web page to Y2K Viruses (www.mcafee.com/centers/y2k/y2k_viruses.asp).

Don't get your knickers in a twist over this one, though. Sure, Y2K hoax viruses and Trojan horses will turn up - Microsoft has already reported an e-mail Trojan horse. But these viruses are no different from any others. Common sense also prevails at virus curmudgeon Rob Rosenberg's Computer Virus Myths site (http://www.kumite. com/myths)To avoid infection from Y2K hoax viruses (or any other kind), take the same actions you normally would: keep your antivirus software up to date, avoid sharing floppy disks with others, and don't launch executable files or scriptable documents (like Word or Excel files) until you've scanned them for viruses.

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