Letters to the Editor

Clarifying the finer points In your article "Virus infects communications with Mir" [FCW Oct. 20] Jonathan Wheat senior anti-virus laboratory analyst at the National Computer Security Association said macro viruses take their names from the macro language first created by Microsoft Corp. for inclusion in its Office 95 product. The article continues "Once a document that contains a macro command is exposed to the virus the virus easily is spread to other parts of a user's system or transmitted to another user usually through e-mail attachments. With the release of Microsoft's Office 97 with the macro language these viruses have grown dramatically."

I would just like to clarify a few points on which I think there might be some confusion. Macro commands have been around nearly as long as computers and they simply indicate a large complex command or command sequence. Microsoft used a macro language in its Word product well before its Office 95 product but they by no means created the term.

Other computer programs such as Corel Corp.'s WordPerfect have macro command languages as well but I am not aware of these other languages being used to spread viruses.

The article said Apple-branded computers had been infected with the virus. In general Macintosh computers are very virus-resistant compared to the Microsoft Windows platform but Microsoft Office complicates the work of virus prevention by encapsulating the viruses in the document code. The casual reader might have concluded that Apple computers were particularly vulnerable to the virus when I suspect that Gateway 2000 Inc. Dell Computer Corp. and other brands were at least equally affected.

Wheat also might have mentioned that of the five to six new viruses that are created per day most affect only computers running Windows or DOS.

John WoodComputer RenaissanceRockford Ill.

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