Technology: Nothing To Sneeze At

It began with an electronic Christmas card that mysteriously materialized last December on terminals connected to one of IBM's research computer networks. Soon after came news that some desktop computers at Hebrew University in Israel were growing more and more lethargic, as if a hidden organism were sapping their strength. Then, one day last month, thousands of Macintosh users were greeted with an unexpected "message of peace" from the publisher of a Canadian computer magazine, which flashed briefly on their screens and disappeared without a trace.

The computer world has been struck by an epidemic of "viruses," tiny fragments of computer...

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