Computer virus worms its way onto ''...One More Time'' -- Playing Britney Spears' new album on your computer may pose a risk

By Gillian Flynn
Updated March 12, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Inside the candy-apple goodness that is Britney Spears lies a worm. A computer worm, to be precise — a type of virus that sneaked into the first run of the teen pop phenom’s …Baby One More Time CD. Fans who simply spin the disc on their CD players will be none the wiser — it’s the multimedia enhancements that are at issue. Those files, when played on a Macintosh, contain photos, a video greeting from the singer — and the AutoStart 9805-D worm.

It sounds ominous, but the fairly docile D version was made to search and destroy more virulent AutoStart strains. ”You can think of it as a virus cure which is a virus itself,” says Ascendant Technologies systems consultant Michael Franzyshen. The likelihood of crashes is remote: The D strain was scheduled to go inert after Dec. 24, 1998. Still, says Susan Lesch, editor of the Mac Virus site (www.macvirus.com), ”there is no such thing as a good virus.”

How the invader got on the CD is unknown — as is how many copies of the first run, which shipped gold, are worm infested. Reps for Jive Records, Spears’ label, say the virus was eradicated on later runs, but because the CDs aren’t marked, it’s impossible to separate bad from good at first glance. The worm usually turns up if you have an installed virus detector, or users can put the CD in their Macs and search for a file called ”Deldb.” A Jive rep says the company plans no recall. So you can play ”E-Mail My Heart” again and again without fear — except for the fact you’re playing ”E-Mail My Heart” again and again.

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