A Summer Bug Stings Amex

OOPS. THIS WASN'T QUITE THE impression American Express wanted to make. A promo diskette, sent out to trumpet its new SmartData software, has a virus. A reporter who got the disk spotted the bug. The problem: Interactive Direct, the company that created the demo disk, inadvertently transmitted a virus when it copied the program. The actual SmartData program, produced internally by AmEx for its 401(k)-sponsor clients, wasn't corrupted.

Interactive President Michael Bonner, in a memo to tainted-disk recipients, described a "nondestructive virus" that "does not go out on its own to destroy data or files." Even so, he admits there's a remote chance that, if a hard drive is filled to the brim, the virus could interfere with its ability to remember where all the files are. AmEx quickly dispatched a "clean" replacement disk, along with the McAfee Virus Detection software.