Lab Notes

Lab Notes

Not very merry. It's not even autumn yet, and the word on the street is to look out for a special holiday gift: a computer virus called W32.Kriz, programmed to hit Dec. 25. Similar to the W95.CIH virus that could delete data from files across entire networks, W32.Kriz goes further.

Among its other Grinch-like deeds, it can flash a PC's BIOS, erase the CMOS logic and corrupt the Microsoft Windows Kernel32.DLL file. The code also reportedly includes antireligious messages.

Information about what to do to make your holidays virus-free appears on the Web sites of antivirus software vendors Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., at, and Network Associates Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., at

Bugging out.'There is going to be some accountability in the software industry. Ambrosia Software Inc. of Rochester, N.Y., has made an astounding pledge. The company has promised that if any of its products shipped during the rest of this year or during all of next year turns out to have a bug, the company's marketing director will eat a real bug.

The publicity stunt is intriguing in view of the ramifications of a bug-rich diet for software company employees. The GCN Lab staff would likely either see the numbers of software bugs decline or, if the insects proved to be an improvement over the usual programmer diets, we would see no change at all.

Between development cycles, the programmers and marketers could be hired out to organic farmers to keep pests down The only problem might be the big shipments of insects needed around Redmond, Wash., and Silicon Valley, Calif.

What's the word?'Tell the world your password? Although the File Transfer Protocol offers no real security, there was an interesting report recently about a small FTP security exposure in two leading browsers, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 and Netscape Communicator 4.6.1.

Evidently, as either browser downloads a file from an FTP site, the status bar displays not only the user's log-in identification but also the password.

That's not a huge problem, as the user is likely to be the only one viewing the information, but it's something to remember if you wander while waiting for a lengthy download to finish.

The best workaround for Microsoft Windows NT users is to press Ctl-Alt-Del and choose Lock Workstation, which will clear the screen and prevent snoopers from seeing your password.

For Windows 9x, make sure you have a screen saver running with password protection that takes effect after a very few minutes, or at least minimize your browser windows while downloading.

'Jason Byrne


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