Melissa virus reappears

The new strand of the virus, which has been code named Melissa-X, was detected by antivirus firms overnight. However, unlike its predecessor Melissa, which infected thousands of PCs the world over in 1999, this new variant has only led to a few reported incidents.

Although it initially has been targeted at Mac users - as Office 2001 is only available on the Mac platform - the virus can also infect Microsoft Word users running Windows, according to a notice on the Web site of antivirus company Sophos.

The new variant is similar to Melissa. The virus sends a message to the first 50 addresses in all of the address books accessible by Outlook. This message has the subject line: "Important Message From ", where the username is taken from the current user information settings. The message text then reads: "Here is that document you asked for ... don't show anyone else ;-) ." Accompanying this message is an attachment which is a copy of the infected document, from which the virus is launched.

Despite its threat, Richard Baldry, Sophos managing director, described the new strand as not particularly virulent, especially when compared to some of the other viruses - such as the Love Bug - which have appeared in the past. Baldry was confident Melissa-X won't spread like the original. "The computer-using public is today far more aware of how to treat unexpected attachments," he said.

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Howard Dahdah

PC World
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