Friday, August 1, 2003

An exciting week with SoBig, Blaster, and a new Office


By Diane Poremsky

The past couple of weeks were really exciting for users and administrators. Users get the fun stuff (i.e., Office 2003) while admins gets the dirty work: cleaning up after viruses and securing the network.

First, the Blaster worm made it way through the Internet, slowing Internet traffic and causing many computers to blue screen and reboot when they tried to connect to the Internet. It proved to many users how important firewalls and Window Update's automatic updating really are. Many college campus networks, including the campuses my three children attend, were hit hard as new students arrived for orientation with unsecured and unpatched computers. Anyone using Windows 95/98/ME gets the last laugh, those operating systems might be old and out-of-date, but they are immune to Blaster.

After several days delay, reportedly due to the Blaster worm, Microsoft announced Office 2003 was released to manufacturing. You can expect to see Office 2003 available pre-installed on OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) machines in the next couple of weeks and on the shelves at your local stores October 21.

"Anyone using Windows 95/98/ME gets the last laugh, those operating systems might be old and out-of-date, but they are immune to Blaster."

Microsoft offers a "Technology Guarantee" for Office. Anyone who buys Office XP (2002) products between August 15 and November, 30 2003 can upgrade to the equivalent Office System 2003 product for the cost of shipping. Coupons and more information on the Office XP/2002 Technology Guarantee are at

You'll also find the information on MS Office System 2003 products at Pricing for Office System 2003 products is at and a comparison of the available Office 2003 editions is at Pricing is about the same as for previous versions; OneNote is listed at a steep $199, with a $100 rebate for anyone who owns any other Microsoft Office program.

The excitement of Office 2003's release was tempered by yet another email worm, a return performance by SoBig. Like Blaster, this worm was preventable and made good use of students returning to college and connecting unsecured computers to the campus network - our mail servers were hit especially hard by computers on a number of college campuses.

I couldn't help but laugh when it became obvious one well-known California university finally installed antivirus software on their servers. Instead of receiving SoBig, we were getting messages from them informing us that we were sending infected messages, yet many of the IPs contained in the messages came from their own campus system.