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National Infrastructure Protection Center: Computer Virus Alert

Mar 29, 1999, 12:40 (4 Talkback[s])

The United States Federal Government is getting involved with this "Melissa" virus that is plaguing Microsoft products.

"The National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) was notified on March 26, 1999, of the proliferation of a computer virus known as the "Melissa Macro Virus" (MMV). There have been widespread reports of propagation of this virus into commercial, government and military e-mail gateways and systems. The MMV has the capability of causing a denial of service and degraded computer network performance, which could result in system administrators' having to shut-down affected networks and e-mail servers. The NIPC has received reports of significant network degradation and e-mail outages at major corporations and Internet Service Providers. The NIPC has received no reports of the virus causing any alteration of or damage to any data contained in the infected systems."

"The MMV exploits a vulnerability that exists in the Microsoft computer software applications Word 97 and Word 2000. The virus is transmitted via an attachment to innocuous e-mail messages transmitted to unsuspecting computer users via the Internet and related networks. The virus is activated when a user opens the infected document. A command is immediately executed that lowers the security settings in the Microsoft Word 97 or Word 2000 application to permit all macro files to run and any newly created Word documents to be infected. The virus spreads by transmitting e-mail messages containing the infected documents to addresses contained in the infected user's e-mail address book. Corrective measures have been developed to guard against infection by the "Melissa Macro Virus" at the network and user level. In addition, leading virus detection utilities (including Symantec {http://www.symantec.com}, McAfee {http://www.mcafee.com}, and Trend Micro {http://www.antivirus.com}), when updated properly after March 26, 1999, reportedly detect and clean this type of macro viruses."

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