Anti-virus vendors are falling into yet another spat, this time about whether the millennium poses a severely increased risk of virus attacks.
UK company Sophos has laid into arch anti-virus rivals Network Associates and Symantec for "virus scaremongering", claiming that in a recent interview, the chief researcher at Symantec said there might be up to 200,000 new viruses written especially for the millennium.
In addition, it said that Network Associates has set up a Web site warning of virus threats which, according to Sophos, are not in the wild and are never likely to be.
Sophos warned that with many businesses deeply concerned about Y2K, confusing statements from anti-virus companies trivialise the virus issue and damage the credibility of the industry as a whole.
Graham Cluely, Sophos senior technology consultant, commented: "Predictions of this type are unhelpful. We are surprised to see anti virus companies trying to capitalise on Y2K worries."
Executives at Symantec said Sophos had taken its comments out of context.
Kevin Street, Symantec technical director, commented: "What he meant was that there could be between one and 20,000 new viruses, but the numbers aren't what matter. What matters is that we are prepared."
He added: "There will be a great temptation for virus writers to be the one to write the first Y2K virus to get the attention."
David Emms, product manager at Network Associates, said the company's new Web site had been set up in response to customer requests.
"We have put the information up there because people are concerned," he said.
He added: "We don't know exactly what the numbers of viruses will be yet, but it is most likely that virus writers will tack on to Y2K because of the date."
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