January 19, 2001: F-Secure Corporation (HEX:FSC), a world
leader in wireless security technology, is warning computer users about an
e-mail worm which is currently spreading globally.
Melissa.W is a version of one of the most widespread viruses in history,
Melissa.A. The original Melissa spread around the world as an e-mail chain
letter in March 1999.
After January 17th, 2001, F-Secure started receiving reports about a new
version of Melissa, this time spreading in a file called Anniv.doc. By
January 19th, F-Secure had received dozens of infection reports from
parts of the world, with the rate of infections increasing. It seems that
this virus might become very widespread rapidly.
This version was named Melissa.W. It's not really a new version of the
virus; the format of the infected file has changed. The file Anniv.doc is
Microsoft Word 2001 for Macintosh format. This is problematic, as several
antivirus programs are still unable to handle this new file format, but
file and the virus is fully functional under both Macintosh and Windows
versions of Microsoft Office.
The only functional difference between Melissa.A and Melissa.W is that the
variant does not lower the macro security settings in Word 2000. The worm
sends itself as an e-mail attachment to addresses found from Microsoft
Outlook address book.
Melissa.W can arrive in any document - the attachment does not necessarily
have to be named Anniv.doc. The infected attachments might also contain
confidential data from the infected computers.
"There's nothing really new here", says Mikko Hypponen, Manager of
Anti-Virus research at F-Secure. "But the change in Microsoft file formats
does make this particular version of Melissa somewhat troublesome."
"The worst effects of this worm are the same as for Melissa versions
usually: overloading e-mail servers with huge traffic and sometimes
e-mailing confidential Word documents to a wide audience", he continues.
E-mail worms such as Melissa spread effectively, as users are likely to
e-mails coming from someone they know. You don't need to have Microsoft
Outlook to receive the virus in e-mail. However, the virus will not spread
further from your machine via e-mail unless you have Outlook installed.
Melissa will not work under Word 95 and will not spread further under
Outlook Express. It can infect Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000 and Macintosh
F-Secure Anti-Virus is capable of detecting Melissa.W even though it
inside a Word 2001 for Macintosh document.
For more information, please contact:
UK country manager,
The Edge Partnership
(+44) 1625 511966 / 511967 (fax)
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