For Virus Haters, A Bug Of The Month Club

COMPUTER VIRUSES HAVE BECOME A big concern. Once they get into a PC--usually via E-mail, floppy disk, or Web downloads--these nasty little programs can wreak havoc by destroying files or playing practical jokes. Some 100 new viruses are discovered each month.

Companies such as Network Associates Inc. and Symantec Corp. have done a brisk business selling antivirus software, which identifies and wipes out such bugs. Now, a newcomer from Madrid, Panda Software, is joining the fray. To mark its U.S. debut, Panda is launching a new "bug-of-the-month" club.

Each month, Panda's engineers will identify the "nastiest or most peculiar" virus they have found. An antidote to the featured bug will be sent out, along with fixes for dozens of other viruses. The club is intended to promote Panda's antivirus subscription service, which, for $56 or less per desktop (depending on the number of desktops served), gives companies monthly fixes plus 24-hour-a-day technical support.

The bug club kicks off this month with "Lady Di." That virus, which activates on the last day of every month, crashes Microsoft Corp. Word programs and fills victims' computer screens with the lyrics to Elton John's Candle in the Wind tribute to the late Princess of Wales. What's next, an I Got You Babe bug?

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.