Booting Out Viruses While Booting Up The Pc

Software antidotes for computer viruses can be very effective. Trouble is, each new virus may require yet another update to antivirus programs. Computer consultant Richard Levin, president of Philadelphia's Levin & Associates, has long advocated a permanent cure--making the hardware virus-proof. And his ideas are finally catching on.

In September, Atlanta-based American Megatrends Inc. unveiled a so-called BIOS that it claims prevents viruses from infecting a favorite target, the critical "boot" section of hard drives. BIOS stands for "basic input/output system" and is the first outside information a microprocessor loads into its memory. Digital Enterprises, a Gaithersburg (Md.) startup, recently introduced a plug-in card for IBM-compatible personal computers that intercepts a virus' attempt to infect a hard drive. If other suppliers want to jump into this market, Levin says he will be glad to prescribe such remedies for free. "I want the problem to end once and for all," he says.

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