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Melissa - A Macro Virus

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Melissa-- A New Menace for Microsoft Product Users: A Word and a Outlook Macro Virus
Edited by Dr. Raj Mehta
Information Supplied by Peter Doshi and Bruce Gingery

``Melissa'' is a virus which has caught a lot of attention since last Friday. It is believed to become so pervasive that the FBI has even issued a warning about it, which no doubt, will get a lot of media attention. This is a first.

In USA, they believe it WILL become a very serious problem by Monday i.e. our Monday Night, when US returns to work. I don't think the problem will be far behind in making its appearance in India.

``Melissa'', aka W97M_Melissa, a Macro virus uses a combination of MS Word and Outlook macros to grab a users's address book list and send out a list of 80 porn sites to all those people... automatically. As it's all automated and done without user intervention, the rate of propagation is alarming. On the brighter side, the virus doesn't seem to have any destructive attributes, such as corrupting your data and files. But, given the amount of email this can generate, it's likely (and already has) shut down email systems.

Even if you don't use MS Outlook for email, your computer can still become infected. One of the identified properties of this virus is to lower the system security setting, making it easier to change system properties. Additionally, it is known that the virus infects the `Normal.dot' file, a special template file used when creating any new Word document. When that document is then emailed, the virus will spread, with the sender completely unknowing. When the file is received and opened, *unpatched* (see reference on bottom for a patch) versions of Word97 will automatically run the embedded Macro without warning.

Many sites on the net are publishing warning of being careful when receiving an email with a given subject, "Important Message from ", or with a given filename, LIST.DOC. DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that ONLY an email with those properties may contain the virus. That is not the case, as described in the scenario above.



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