Will Michelangelo Chisel Away At Your Hard Disk?

The flu isn't the only bug going around. Computer doctors have discovered several outbreaks of a computer virus dubbed "Michelangelo." And on Mar. 6, the renaissance sculptor's 517th birthday and the "trigger date" for the virus, thousands of IBM-compatible personal computers could be affected.

Michelangelo may prove extremely virulent. Computer experts who have analyzed it say the malicious program has the potential to destroy information stored in a PC by cramming gobs of random and useless data onto the hard drive. While the damaging effects can easily be avoided by advancing the computer's internal calender past the deadly Mar. 6 date, Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency Response Team has been alerting users of Internet, which links universities with federal computers, to the danger. So-called antivirus software makers are also spreading the word. Commcrypt Inc. in Beltsville, Md., is sending faxes to hundreds of its customers pointing out the benefits of its virus-prevention program, Detect Plus.

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