Microsoft Leads Y2K-Related Virus

Industry titan Microsoft has entered into strategic online distribution deals with utility software vendors Symantec Corp. and Trend Micro, Inc. in an attempt to help businesses that use the Internet get ready to handle Y2K-related viruses and other potential mayhem.

Under the terms of the agreement with Symantec, Microsoft will offer a downloadable version of Norton AntiVirus 2000 from its Year 2000 Web site.

The offering is part of the Redmond, Washington-based software vendor’s Year 2000 Resource Center, and intends to protect small and mid-sized businesses, including e-commerce operations, against what some security experts have predicted will represent an opportunistic moment for malicious hackers/crackers to strike.

“There are certainly malicious hackers who intend to use Y2K as a reason to wreak havoc on vulnerable businesses and consumers,” commented Deborah Willingham, vice president of Microsoft’s business and enterprise division. “The viruses, worms, and hoaxes that are created have the potential to be the single most harmful effect on the Year 2000 challenge.”

In a similar move, Microsoft has partnered with Trend Micro to provide trial versions of the PC-cillin antivirus solution to users of its Y2K-related resource Web site. The product is also available for download through Trend Micro’s Y2K Virus Watch information and e-commerce site.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

“Since the best offense is a good defense, we’re recommending that computer users install desktop antivirus software if they haven’t already done so,” observed Eva Chiang, Trend Micro CTO. “They should also keep it up to date, especially in the weeks and days leading up to and after the New Year.”

For Trend Micro’s part, the deal with Microsoft is a component of its Global Y2K Internet content security readiness program designed to assist users to defend against “security threats during the Millennium crunch.” The company’s Y2K Virus Watch site is central to the effort, providing updated virus definitions and pattern updates, access to the HouseCall online virus scanning service, guidelines, tips and other information.

Ask the Cat in the Black Hat

In terms of Internet security, Y2K could be the corporate equivalent of a bad flu season,” stated Chris Christiansen, program director for Internet Security for International Data Corp. (IDC). Christiansen’s thoughts echo those of other security experts.

“Taking a myopic approach only to the Y2K issue that does not involve diligent attention to security could lead to severe consequences,” observed Jeff Moss, director of assessment services for Secure Computing (Nasdaq: SCUR).

“Being Y2K compliant really won’t matter for much if an organization’s network is rendered ineffective by hacker attacks and intrusions.”

Secure Computing and Microsoft co-sponsored the Black Hat Briefings ’99 security conference in Las Vegas earlier this year, focusing on computer-related security issues.

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