In the summer of 2001, a computer worm called Code Red II invaded hundreds of thousands of computers, giving hackers unauthorized access to systems and nearly shutting down the White House Web site. This type of malicious hacker-authored code spreads like smallpox through unprotected computers and networks. The most recent high-profile case hit the Internet in mid-August just this year. Users who take a chance by not downloading a program patch to keep out the worm or who fail to upgrade their software risk spreading such Internet infections.

"The best way to stop this kind of malicious code is for software vendors to spend the time and money necessary to produce reliable, easy-to-install protection programs and make them readily available to users," says Tunay Tunca, assistant professor of operations, information and technology at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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