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News Briefs

Anti-Virus Program Is Main Cause of Many Weird Computer Malfunctions


In a scenario that can only be compared to a vaccine causing virus-like conditions, Symantec Corp. has been scrambling to identify the source of computer malfunctions that occur because systems have loaded its Norton Anti-Virus software program.

While the condition has been labeled by professionals who are dealing with it as the “blankie virus,” Symantec said it is not yet fully certain that the condition is actually caused by a virus. Instead, Symantec said, the problem arises when systems attempt to connect to Symantec’s Live Update Internet site, to load the latest virus definitions so the software can root out and delete them.

Systems that attempt a live update after not having done so for an extended period of months fail to synchronize definition files correctly, causing the system to generate a “false positive” that locks up a user’s system as though an actual virus has been detected, Symantec said.

Symantec still is not certain why the condition occurs, though it said it’s rare. The company acknowledged the company has not yet ruled out that a virus in a user’s system before the update causes the malfunction, but is subsequently erased when users completely reload their antivirus software.

New York Hospital Faces Fine After Doctor Carves Initials


The New York Health Department slapped a hospital with a $14,000 fine for failing to report that a doctor had carved his initials into a patient’s abdomen and for ignoring past complaints about the doctor pulling the arms of newborn infants.

Earlier Thursday, state officials permanently yanked the medical license of Allan Zarkin for carving an “A” and “Z” into the stomach of a patient on whom he performed a Caesarean section Sept. 7.

“It is my hope that Dr. Zarkin will not practice medicine in the state of New York ever again,” said Health Commissioner Antonia Novello, who released a scathing report that outlined seven violations of state medical laws by Beth Israel Medical Center. The agency imposed a $2,000 fine per violation, the highest allowed under state law.

The department ordered Beth Israel to hire independent consultants to evaluate its obstetrics and gynecology department and its system for monitoring doctors and reviewing their credentials. For the next year, the hospital must also submit quarterly reports to the state detailing its corrective measures.

Novello said concerns about Zarkin’s behavior first surfaced in February 1998, when hospital workers complained to superiors that he often “screamed” at patients and staff.