Beyond.Com and Others Head Battle Against Computer Viruses

When the latest virus-like worm slithered its way online recently, e-commerce sites such as Beyond.com didn’t mistake it for Dennis Rodman. They did, however, see opportunity written all over it.

While the media picked up the trail of Worm.ExploreZip, and companies were busy shutting down their e-mail systems, Beyond.com posted fix-related links at its online Anti-Virus Center. In addition to providing direct access to utility software vendor sites such as those maintained by Symantec and McAfee, Beyond.com also featured a selection of other anti-virus market offerings and related information.

“Beyond.com is committed to providing our customers with the products, information and fixes they need to protect themselves against any computer virus,” commented Brian Sroub, the company’s vice president of marketing.

But the online retail software giant was not alone. If nothing else, this latest virus scare showed that there is competition in the antivirus sector of the security solution market.

All The Staples Needed To Defeat A Worm?

Office supply titan Staples, who launched its e-commerce endeavor Staples.com in the fall of 1998, jumped in the worm game as well, offering Symantec’s award winning Norton Anti-Virus 5.0 program at a reduced price.

“The best way to avoid viruses, such as Melissa and the worm, is to regularly upgrade your virus protection software,” said Jeff Levitan, senior vice president of Staples.com. “By offering this special, we’re helping our customers slash the worry of running their offices.” Some experts express concern, however, about the ability of the security sector to keep up with the virus-writing community.

According to a National Computer Security Association study, reports of computer virus infection have risen over 300% since April of 1996, despite increasing availability of comprehensive antivirus solutions. The Carnegie Mellon University Computer Emergency Response Team has indicated that virus activity has expanded significantly in just the past three months.

One Norton AntiVirus user interviewed for this story revealed that when recently updating their program’s virus definitions, there had been an increase of 20,179 listings made available by Symantec’s Anti-Virus Research Center between May 23rd and June 11th.

Despite numerous warnings, the recent worm spread rapidly over the Internet, penetrating numerous systems, causing shutdowns and panic was reported internationally. Industry heavyweights such as Compaq, General Electric and Microsoft were reportedly hit.

Wild File

“The public response so far has been that there isn’t an adequate solution,” stated Eric Schneider, president of Wild File, Inc. Even Bill Gates was quoted, by the Associated Press, as saying “we need to design our systems to be far more resilient to these types of virus attacks.”

But a new program claims to be one step ahead of the antivirus programs. GoBack, created by Wild File, “allows you to revert your entire hard drive to the way it was at a previous time” before a virus strike, according to Schneider. A free trial version of the product is available through the company’s Web site.

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