National Infrastructure Protection Center: Computer Virus Alert

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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