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Melissa Virus
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3/29/99: Melissa Virus - Facts you need to know:

The new virus on the block is called the "Melissa" virus.  The virus infects Microsoft Word 97 or Word 2000 Documents and does the following:  It infects Word and spreads to all Word documents you open. It changes some settings to make the infection easier. It e-mails itself using Microsoft Outlook (not Outlook Express), masquerading as a message from you.

  • Reading an e-mail message is NOT dangerous.  The virus is stored in the Word document attached to an e-mail message, and you must open the document and enable the macro virus to spread.
  • Any Word 97 or Word 2000 document can be infected.
  • The virus spreads to people who do not use Outlook for E-mail. While using Outlook enables the speedy distribution of infected word documents, other e-mail programs are just as capable of sending infected documents- just not automatically and en masse.  Anyone using Word 97 or Word 2000 can be infected by this virus.
  • The virus doesn't work in Word 95. The tools that the virus uses to spread were not available in Word 95.
  • You can be infected from ANY Word 97 or Word 2000 documents. While getting the virus via e-mail attachment is the most common source, you can also get it from exchanging files on a common server or from moving files from computer to computer via disk.
  • The virus spreads to people who do not use Outlook. Outlook just enables speedy distribution of infected Word documents. Other e-mail programs are just as capable of sending infected documents -- just not automatically and en masse. Anyone using Word 97 or Word 2000 can be infected by this.

What it does to your computer

If you have Word 97...

After an infected document is opened in Word 97, the virus takes these actions:

1. It grays out and blocks access to the "Macro" command in the Tools menu. This effectively stops you from checking any macro that may be present in a document or template.

2. Melissa changes some Word 97 settings, making it easier for the virus to spread itself. Specifically, the "Macro virus protection," "Prompt to save Normal template," and "Confirm Conversion at Open" options are disabled.

If you have Word 2000...

In the upcoming version of Microsoft's word processor, the virus acts slightly differently:

1. Melissa grays out and blocks access to the Security settings command in the Tools | Macro menu. This effectively stops you from raising your macro-virus security to a level which prevents macros from running.

2. It also sets Word to the lowest macro-virus security level, so there's zero protection from unsafe macros.


How it spreads using Outlook

If you have the full version of Microsoft Outlook installed (rather than Outlook Express), the virus grabs up to 50 e-mail addresses from your address book and sends them all a message with an infected Word document attached. The message appears to come from you, and even uses your name in the heading.

Here's how it typically looks:

FROM: <your e-mail name and address>

TO: <50 contacts from each address book you have in Outlook>

SUBJECT: Important Message From <your name, taken from Word's settings>

BODY: Here is that document you asked for ... don't show anyone else ;-)

ATTACHMENT: <an infected document>


How to protect yourself:   If you receive an e-mail message fitting the above description, you should delete it immediately and advise the sender that they have been infected.

if you think you have been infected, read these links for assistance:

Questions? E-mail Suggestions@rr1.net


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