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Hare today, gone tomorrow?

The Hare virus lives up to its promise, wiping out a handful of computer hard drives but falls far short of the mainstream media's dire warnings of global mayhem.

The Hare virus lived up to its promise today: it wiped out some computer hard drives, but it fell far short of the mainstream media's dire warnings of global mayhem.

As virus experts had predicted in interviews with CNET last week, software companies said today that Hare did not appear to be widespread. But strike it did, the first of two detonation days. The next one falls a month from now, on September 22.

"We had 12 companies in the U.K. that were infected," said Graham Cluley, a senior technologist for Dr. Solomon. Three of Dr. Solomon's U.S. clients were affected.

"I had about three or four, five calls from people who had it trigger and they lost all their data," Cluley said today in an interview from the UK. "I spoke to one chap today who lost three or four machines. He was almost cheerful about it because he had backups."

Other anti-virus companies reported numerous calls from worried customers and curious journalists but reported few, if any, actual hits.

Hare, named for the words Hare Krishna found in its code, was far less virulent than predictions of the mainstream news organiztions, which had issued dire warnings of massive infection pervading the Internet and its users. One local CBS affiliate in San Francisco, KPIX-TV, recommended that people not even turn on their PCs today.

Symantec reported two infections, one of which was able to stop the virus before it destroyed the hard disk. The other is a telecom company in North Carolina that is now trying to get rid of it.

The virus, considered too buggy by many experts to spread widely, originally was disseminated mostly through newsgroups, such as alt.cracks and alt.sex.