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Cybernaut

Two new viruses erupt

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Computer viruses took a turn for the worse over the holidays with the discovery of a new type of virus that can be embedded in image files. You still have to open a malicious image to infect your computer, but this new virus-type is a lot harder to spot than the usual "click on this zip file to see naked pictures of Anna Kournikova" routine. Potentially you could infect your computer by clicking on the wrong web site image, or by opening an attached picture file in an e-mail. The same program that opens the picture activates the virus, taking advantage of a flaw in Windows.

There hasn’t been much in the way of damage reported, but experts fear that the malicious code is too easily modified and too easily spread by dodging firewalls and antivirus programs.

Microsoft released a patch to fix the flaw last week, but in a way the damage has been done because hackers have found a way to spread viruses without using executable programs. It’s only a matter of time before another vulnerability is discovered and exploited.

At times like these I’m glad I bought an eMac – the new virus infects Windows computers only, while Apples are once again in the clear.

Virtually CES

Every January the city of Las Vegas hosts the Consumer Electronics Show, which is arguably the biggest geekfest on planet earth.

CES is where most high-tech companies preview their new gadgets, new product lines, new software, new games, new accessories and new strategies for 2006 and beyond. Keynote speakers include luminaries like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Sony’s Sir Howard Stringer, Intel’s Paul Otellini, and Google’s Larry Page.

For that reason the show also attracts a lot of tech news media from around the world.

One good place to find out what went on at CES this year is the CES website, www.cesweb.org . You can find copies of all the keynote speeches, as well as a kind of daily newsletter reporting from the convention floors.

I also like the coverage at online tech site Engadget ( www.engadget.com ) for the simple reason that Engadget is less interested in what Michael Dell has to say than in Sharp’s new 57-inch LCD television or how Google’s new music and video download service will work.

Another good place for CES-related coverage and announcements is C/Net at www.cnet.com . Their reporters are always looking out for the stories that will still mean something a few months down the road – like the launch of new holographic memory cards with 300-800 gigabytes of storage space.

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