Microsoft Helps Distribute Anti-Virus Software for Y2K

Several anti-virus vendors recently banded together with Microsoft Corp. to provide free, fully functional anti-virus software to companies preparing for Y2K.

The vendors claim that widespread use of anti-virus software provides increased protection against Y2K-related viruses, hoaxes, and other malicious files.

Don Jones, Y2K product manager at Microsoft, says his company expects hackers to use Y2K as a springboard event.

"Y2K-related hoaxes and viruses could be the single most destructive aspect of Y2K," he says. "And we’ve seen an increase in viruses, and an increase in beta viruses."

Jones points to recent examples of viruses and hoaxes -- such as Melissa, Y2Kcount.exe, and a hoax e-mail claiming it was from Bill Gates that erased victims’ hard drives -- as possibilities for the types of attacks companies can expect at the end of this year.

Microsoft recommends that customers install the anti-virus software of their choice and check the manufacturer's Web site periodically for updated virus signature files. These files can change daily in response to new viruses.

The vendors that have joined the program include Central Command Inc., Computer Associates Int’l Inc., Data Fellows Corp., Network Associates Inc., Norman ASA, Panda Software, Sophos Inc., Symantec Corp., and Trend Micro Inc.

Each vendor has its own distinct version of free anti-virus software. Jones says Microsoft is not pushing customers toward any specific product or company.

Microsoft coordinated the availability of the free software programs, and now its role is to make the software available for customers. Each anti-virus vendor will support its own product.

Software from all the companies are available at Microsoft's Year 2000 Web site at or from the respective anti-virus firms' sites through Dec. 31, 1999. Once downloaded, the anti-virus software is available for 90 days.

After 90 days, the software time-bombs. Permanent versions, however, are available for purchase from the vendors.