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Published on Thursday, January 6, 2000

From inside China today

Companies hit by Y2K bug and virus ALEX LO

More than a dozen companies and organisations have been hit by the Y2K bug and one other suffered the first known malicious virus attack activated by the year change, the Productivity Council said yesterday. In the first serious attack by one of 14 viruses linked to the year 2000 rollover, the virus known as W32.Mypics.Worm, attacked a computer firm's system and destroyed its Bios input-output system.

"In layman's terms, the computer is as good as dead. It would be difficult to retrieve any data at this stage," said the council's information technology division general manager Yung Kai-tai.

Since Saturday, the council has recorded 13 Y2K incidents in addition to the virus attack.

Three were serious, with one system failure and two software programs that would not function properly.

The council yesterday sounded a warning about 14 viruses that could strike any time this year, some of which may be spread unwittingly by e-mail.

"Because of the nature of computer code-writing, designing a 2000-sensitive virus is much easier than a date-specific virus," the council's principal IT consultant, Roy Ko Wai-tak, said.

The council is expecting approval for a government grant to set up a computer emergency response centre modelled on similar organisations in 90 countries.

Pending approval, the centre could start operations by this summer, he said.

It would help local companies and organisations in computer emergencies liaise with similar overseas centres and promote Internet and computer security.

Information and counter-measures against the Y2K viruses are available at

-- Martin Thompson (, January 19, 2000

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