Microsoft advises turning off PCs to avoid rollover viruses

Microsoft advises turning off PCs to avoid rollover viruses

Company reports rash of malicious year-end code, offers free downloads of Norton AntiVirus 2000

By Michael Cheek
GCN Staff

REDMOND, Wash.'Microsoft Corp. officials recommend turning off all noncritical PCs during the year 2000 rollover, but not because of bugs in the company's software.

Don Jones, director of Microsoft year 2000 readiness, said he has seen a recent rash of viruses, worms and malicious Trojan-horse attempts targeted at the end of the year.

An e-mail message recently surfaced that was falsely labled as coming from Microsoft and had an attachment named y2kcount.exe, which supposedly counted down to 2000. The application sought out user names and passwords and e-mailed them to Eastern Europe, Jones said.

'Microsoft will never distribute software via e-mail,' he said.

Jones said he has seen or heard of date-related hoaxes, viruses and malicious code being distributed via e-mail, and he expects more such actions as Jan. 1 nears.

Taking precautions

'Our recommendation is, if you can, turn your machine off' on New Year's Eve, he said. That will likely prevent any malicious code from triggering at the year change, Jones said.

To stop Trojan horses and other damaging code, a fully functional version of Norton AntiVirus 2000 from Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., will be available for free until Dec. 31 from Symantec and Microsoft. The download is available on the Web at www.symantec.com/nav and www.microsoft.com/y2k.

Jones said that if any viruses are discovered at the last moment'and if all goes as planned'a fix might be ready even before the United States rolls over to Jan. 1.

Microsoft will begin monitoring for such viruses starting Jan. 1 in New Zealand, which is in the leading time zone and 17 hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast. If date-related viruses appear, the company will post fixes within 12 hours of discovery, Jones said.

More than 2,800 Microsoft employees worldwide, including workers at centers in Charlotte, N.C., Dallas and Redmond, Wash., will be on duty for the rollover, Jones said. Many other company employees are restricted from taking leave in December and January, he said.

A final CD-ROM with all of Microsoft's year 2000 fixes and documentation is being shipped at no cost to subscribers who sign up by calling 888-673-8925.

The most up-to-date information will be available on the Web at www.microsoft.com/y2k, a company representative said.

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