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But there is also hope. For instance, viruses based on Microsoft Word macro files and Visual Basic scripts are essentially extinct, Schmugar adds.

Enderle, however, believes that the situation is already unmanageable. “With the Internet a virus can spread in hours, and it takes 24 hours to make a patch,” says Enderle. “What we need is a new architecture.”

Indeed, Enderle says he is looking forward to the release of Vista, the next upgrade of Microsoft Windows, expected around August 2006. According to him, it eliminates the most commonly exploited vulnerabilities of Windows.

Until then, the only sure remedy for an infected PC is to erase the hard drive and reload it with its original, pristine operating system and software. “Probably, within the next year, every family in the country will have to do that at least once,” Enderle says.

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