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Macro viruses stopped at the door

Symantec hopes its new antimacro-virus software will be the ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the saying goes, and if Symantec's (SYMC) new antimacro-virus technology does what the company claims, it could be a ton of help for corporate intranets.

Symantec announced that it will make the Macro Virus Protection system available to corporate customers by May 1. The system works like a bouncer at an exclusive club, checking incoming macro applications against a guest list prepared by the company's information systems department. Uninvited macros--suspected viruses--are denied entry and cannot be downloaded.

Macro viruses attach themselves to applications and spread through documents as they are emailed or downloaded. Of the 259 macro viruses known as of this month, 252 were found in Microsoft Word documents, and the remaining 7 were found in Excel documents, making them particularly bothersome for corporate environments.

Symantec boldly claims that its antivirus system will have a 100 percent success rate. "We feel confident that with this system you will never execute a macro virus," said a company spokesperson. "We're just saying no to unapproved macros."