Caligula: Macro-Mania

virus and is able to steal and send information from personal computers to a designated site on the Internet. The virus is transported to PCs on infected Microsoft Word documents. Its target: Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) keys. PGP is the current security standard for E-mail and file privacy. Once the virus is on a PC, it searches the hard drive to determine if there is a Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) key residing on the PC. If a PGP is located, it is uploaded and sent to

PGP owner, Network Associates, assures Internet users that the PGP key is useless without the correct passcode. They have also installed anti-virus files to counter Caligula. Additionally, the information security expert, Fred Cohen, who first sounded the warning about Caligula, alleges there is no significant danger. His suggestion is to "Just make a one-line change in your firewall." However, if a virus can target and lift the PGP key off a computer, why not target and lift an address book or mailing list file? Obviously, the capability exists.

The individual who wrote Caligula is pretty brazen and in-your-face about his virus creation. Opic, member of Codebreaker, brags, "I wrote this virus to illustrate the weaknesses and flaws in security of Win9x, Office97, and PGP . . .. It is unique in the manner that it is one of the first espionage enabled viruses." An arrogant, self-congratulatory message appears on the 31st of the month on infected computers that says, "WM97/Caligula ©Opic [CodeBreakers 1998] No cia, No nsa, No satellite, Could map our veins." Just what Internet users need: one more problem, one more worry, one more waste of time and energy.

Computer viruses aren't going to go away until laws are created to penalize those who use the Internet to deliberately tamper with personal files. In the meantime, the old adage, "the best defense is a good offense," certainly applies. Keep your anti-virus programs updated.