LAB NOTES

LAB NOTES

Worm in your Apple? A bug in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 is pestering Apple Macintosh users.

The problem is the same as in 1997, when an Internet Explorer bug terrorized Macs by exposing users' private records and secure files and ultimately allowing unauthorized access.

The problem relates to Java. The Java Virtual Machine, which lets Explorer 5 run on different platforms, conflicts with the Mac OS.

So far, there is no patch to resolve the problem.

A virtual cork? Although Microsoft Corp. has yet to release a patch to remedy the Explorer security problem on Macs, it has released one for security problems that crop up for PC users of Explorer 5.

Besides the Apple security glitch, the latest version of Explorer creates five vulnerabilities in PCs.

The PC patch can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web page, at www.microsoft.com.

Computer Darwinism? We feel lucky. A total stranger just came up to us on the street, said they loved us and gave us a box of candy. We can't wait to open it and start eating.

What? You don't think that's such a good idea? Of course, you don't.

If that's so easy to comprehend, then why do people open and run e-mail attachments from strangers?

If someone you have never talked to before suddenly sends a message that says ILOVEYOU in the subject line and has a Visual Basic attachment, why would you choose to run it?

The Love Bug spread so quickly and so far because people were naive, uninformed or asleep at the switch. A second and third virus with different subject lines and slightly different modus operandi swiftly followed on the Love Bug's heels. In these days of worker shortages at public and private-sector organizations, managers have been sorely tempted to open the variant that pretends to be someone's resume.

Industry pundits have ranted about what horrible computing tricks the new viruses are. But maybe they are not so bad. Perhaps it's a form of computer Darwinism?

The virus kills computers of people who are too slow to delete their infected e-mail or who do not know that an attachment with a .vbs extension is dangerous.

The surviving computer users are therefore smarter, stronger and faster than those hosed by the viruses. Not only will there be more room at Internet watering holes, but there will be an impetus for Microsoft to rein in roving Visual Basic files.

'John Breeden II,

jbreeden@gcnlab.com, and

Carlos A. Soto, csoto@gcnlab.com

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    Machine learning with limited data

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