A fast moving macro virus, attached to email messages, has raced through many
corporate email systems. Microsoft itself was forced to disconnect its own
incoming and outgoing email while it cleaned up and installed counter measures.
Now known as the Melissa Macro Virus, this fast propagating plague originated in Europe and spread quickly to the United States. While any person using Microsoft Word 97 or Office 2000 could be hit by the virus, its main impact is in "Microsoft pure" environments where Microsoft Exchange Server and Outlook clients are installed. In these organizations the mail load from the virus propagating itself becomes so heavy the mail server becomes overloaded.
While this virus is non-destructive, it contains a mechanism for timed messages. This same timer could as well launch programs that destroy files or do other serious damage. Since the code for new viruses is spread quickly through the hacker community, destructive versions can be expected soon.
Anti-virus publishers recommend installing anti-virus counter measures on the server, not the workstation, to intercept this type of attack. This virus has many clever features, some of which disable security settings in a workstation's registry.
Companies using Unix, Linux, OS/2 and Macintosh are, as usual, unaffected. While a virus laden email can be stored on, or passed through *nix and OS/2 servers, they cannot be infected.
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