What's hot on the World Wide Web

Good Medicine

The bad news about the Net is it's a petri dish for computer viruses that can destroy critical files, even knock your processor into unconsciousness. Every file download exposes you to viruses--and lately evil geniuses have even concocted viruses that hook onto e-mail.

"What the jet plane was for the biological virus, the Internet is for the computer virus," says Rusty DeSantis, a virus expert with McAfee, an anti-virus software company. Viruses aren't just nerd pranks. A recent survey by the National Computer Security Association found that 70 percent of corporate computer networks have been infected--with huge resulting costs in lost productivity and data.

The good news is that prevention is easy and cheap, with the newest anti-viral software upgraded to guard against infection from the Internet. Top choices include Norton Anti-Virus 2.0 (about $70; download a demo at0 http://www.symantec.com) and McAfee's Virusscan Deluxe (about $70; a demo is available at http://www.mcafee.com). Both provide continuous system monitoring and swift virus elimination as well as file repair.

For heavy Net users, there's also McAfee's WebScan (about $29), which integrates into most Web browsers (including Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator). Prevention, not repair, is WebScan's mission--it monitors incoming data, and when it finds suspect files, they're isolated for your later deletion or repair with McAfee's anti-virus feature.

One caveat: McAfee and Norton products don't mix well--if you install both on one machine, crashes are probable. So stick with one company; both McAfee and Norton provide top-grade virus protection.

Headline Hunter

The web is awash with news, and information overload is epidemic among many users. Cut through the clutter with Personal NewsPage (www.newspage.com), a service that creates a free Web newspaper tailored to your interests. Some 20,000 articles from 630 sources are sifted, and only ones that match your specs show up on your "personal newspage." (Tip: Set it up as your browser's home page to start the day with a jolt of pertinent news.)

Even more convenient is NewsPage Direct, a $6.95-per-month newspaper that's delivered daily to your e-mail box. Using the same sources as NewsPage, this e-mail version provides headlines and capsule story summaries pegged to your interests, with an option for full-text retrieval of key stories. Check it out at (http://www.newspage.com).

Know It All

Disseminating new Web tools and information is the mission of Microsoft's Small Business Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/smallbiz), where ongoing features include a technology forum as well as a "small-business barometer" that lets you compare the financial health of your business against industry averages. Another offering is a "book in progress" on advanced guerrilla marketing tips, posted in installments by Entrepreneur columnist Jay Conrad Levinson. Microsoft has committed $5 million to help educate small-business owners about ways to get the most out of a Web presence, and this site's content can be expected to get continually richer.

Contact Sources

Individual Inc., 8 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803, (800) 414-1000;

McAfee Associates Inc., (408) 988-3832, fax: (408) 970-9727;

Microsoft Corp., 1 Microsoft Wy., Redmond, WA 98052-6399, (206) 882-8080;

Symantec Corp., (800) 441-7234, (http://www.symantec.com).

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