November 29, 2003

Bill Gates beats back bugs

Viruses threaten Microsoft's brand and its bottom line Security-software firms are caught
in the crossfire

When the Blaster and SoBig viruses hit the Internet in August, they infected millions of Microsoft-based home and business computers, bogged down corporate networks and caused billions of dollars in direct and indirect damages.

It was another payday for security-software firms, which have typically benefited over the years from highly publicized Internet attacks that exploit new-found vulnerabilities in Microsoft software.

Not surprisingly, the Blaster and SoBig scares boosted sales of anti-virus products from industry leaders such as Symantec Corp. and Network Associates Inc. Knee-jerk investors, excited by dire predictions of more frequent and destructive cyber attacks, bid up these companies' shares in the weeks that followed.



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