MICROSOFT WARNS OF NEW FLAWS IN NT, 2000 AND XP
Microsoft has warned that a 'critical' flaw in the latest versions of its Windows operating system could allow hackers to access a person's computer. In its monthly security bulletin, the world's largest software maker said Windows versions NT, 2000, XP and Server 2003 were affected. Last week, the software maker revealed a security flaw in Internet Explorer and issued a patch. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced three more vulnerabilities: the critical flaw and two other issues of lesser severity.

Microsoft offers these patches for free on its site. For more information, go to: www.microsoft.com/downloads

MYDOOM WONT GO AWAY ON ITS OWN
The recent ?Mydoom? worm that arrives as an attachment with the file extensions .bat, .cmd, .exe, .pif, .scr, or .zip will not just go away on it?s own warns a Gartner analyst. It has been described as
the most vicious email worm in history and has affected millions of computers and several major company websites. However, the perception is that it will self-terminate on February 12th.

"Don't make the mistake of believing that the threat will end on any particular date," Reynolds said in a statement posted on the Gartner Web site. Because MyDoom deploys a back door to infected machines, and in the process creates a legion of "zombie" systems that can be used by hackers to execute additional attacks in the future, "these attacks will likely continue after Feb. 12, and the threat will not end until the MyDoom executable has been removed from all infected PCs," he said.

Several free tools that scan and eliminate the MyDoom worm are available on the Web from security vendors such as Symantec and Sophos.

SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM INDEX DROPS
The Small Business Optimism Index reached 105.8 (1986=100) in January, down slightly from the 106.9 December reading reports National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in their February report. However, the January figure is the 4th highest quarterly reading, exceeded only in the last two quarters of 1983 and the first quarter of 1984, the beginning of a long economic expansion.

To read the report, go to http://www.nfib.com/PDFs/sbet/sbet2_2004.pdf

SMALL BUSINESS DAYS KICKS OFF IN NEW ZEALAND
Starting this Friday, New Zealand will kick off a series of 24 Small Business Day events around the country. Minister for Small Business John Tamihere says the Small Business Days will build existing relationships and establish new ones between Government and the small business sector. "I want our business heroes to be applauded in the same way that we applaud our sports heroes. Small Business Days will celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of small business." Further information on the Small Business Days series is available at http://www.smallbusiness.med.govt.nz

VENTURE CAPITALISTS INVESTMENTS ON THE RISE
Since being burned from the Dot-Com bust, many VC?s treated new ventures like Black Death: What a difference a few years make. VC?s have been investing much more than in previous years. But don?t expect them to invest in your startup with no revenues. US venture capital investments may have jumped 15 percent in late 2003, but risk-averse investors mostly shunned young startup companies, pushing late stage financing to a 20-year high. So, unless you invented some new technology, VC?s will tell you to come back once you have a prototype or you have healthy revenues.

WHAT IS SMALLBIZ BITS
SmallBiZ Bits is a quick list of some of the more interesting stories, which may affect your small biz.