"Killer Resume" Virus Lurks

Antivirus software vendors warn that yet another variant of the Melissa virus is making the rounds. Dubbed Killer Resume, the virus surfaced Friday morning in at least ten large U.S. businesses, according to antivirus software vendor McAfee.

The virus is carried in an e-mail with an attachment called either Resume.doc or Explorer.doc. If a user opens the attachment, the virus e-mails itself to all of the names in a user's Microsoft Outlook address book. When the attachment is closed, the virus sets about deleting files on the user's hard drive, say McAfee.com representatives.

The first reports of Killer Resume came in this morning, says Sal Viveros, director of McAfee.com's active virus defense group. Most of the reports were in the Midwestern United States, including one large company in Chicago, leading Viveros to suspect that that's where the virus originated. No sightings have surfaced outside of the United States.

"Tuesday will be the biggest issue, because that's when people come back to work," Viveros said. Monday is a nationwide holiday in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

McAfee assigns Killer Resume a medium-risk assessment, although if the virus starts to spread more quickly the firm will upgrade it to high risk. The full name assigned to the virus is W97M/Melissa.bg@MM, although it also goes by the alias Melissa.bg.

Fixes Available

Users who receive an e-mail containing the virus are advised to delete it immediately, and all users should update to the latest version of their antivirus software, Viveros says. McAfee.com has posted a fix in its Update Clinic section of its Web site.

Symantec's Antivirus Research Center has also posted an update to Norton AntiVirus that combats the Melissa variant. It notes that the virus also travels under the names ResumeWorm and W97M.Resume.A.

Another antivirus vendor, Trend Micro, has updated its PC-cillin antivirus software to detect and deflect the new virus, as well.

The hacker responsible for the virus probably started with a copy of the Melissa virus and altered it slightly to create Killer Resume, Viveros says. "It's a case of copycat," he adds.

The Melissa virus hit computer networks around the world in March 1999 and caused an estimated $140 million in damages, mostly in terms of compensating network administrators for the time they spent cleaning up the fallout after the virus activated.

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