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HEARD ON THE BEAT / TECHNOLOGY

Virus Information Only a Click Away

November 11, 1996|GREG MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Joe Wells, one of the leading computer virus experts in the world, has created a new World Wide Web site devoted to publishing facts and debunking myths about viruses. The site, sponsored by IBM, for whom Wells works as a consultant, is at http://www.av.ibm.com

By clicking "Help! I'm infected!" virus victims can get no-nonsense guidance about how to combat a virus and minimize damage. "Don't panic," the site advises. "Don't erase or format everything in sight. It is very likely that the virus is only in a few places on your system, and may be removed easily with the proper anti-virus tools."

Also useful are the site's "Virus Alerts" and "Hype Alerts." The latter spotlight hoaxes and virus scares that pose a greater threat to consumers' pocketbooks than their machines. "The Hare viruses give themselves virtually no time to spread before committing suicide," says one alert. "Will they be a worldwide threat? Oh come on!"

Because of its sponsorship, the site is heavy with information about IBM's products. But by clicking the "archive" option, users can find links to other companies' products, including those of TouchStone Software in Huntington Beach.

Wells, who lives and works in Thousand Oaks, is best known as publisher of the Wildlist, a widely followed list of viruses that have been detected in "the wild," that is, in the mainstream computer population.

Greg Miller covers high technology for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-7830 and at greg.miller@latimes.com

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