Reports streamed in yesterday of companies inundated withthe virus named Melissa, which sneaks into computer systemsas a macro attachment bearing the subject header "ImportantMessage" and then fires off 50 infected E-mail messages torecipients named in the end user's address book.
Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency ResponseTeam, which first posted an alert about the virus yesterday,said Melissa had already hit at least 100,000 personalcomputers by mid-Monday. Companies reporting problems withthe virus yesterday included the Associated Press, Compaq,Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin. Late last week, antivirusvendor Network Associates Inc. said it heard from 80companies hit by the bug.
The virus, which can slow E-mail transmissions to a crawl byinundating the mail server with outgoing messages, made itsway into Microsoft on Friday, and IT personnel therereportedly had to stop outgoing E-mail service to find a fixfor the problem. Since then, everyone from CNN to the FBIhave issued warnings about opening attachments contained inE-mails with similar subject headers. Unless the attachmentis actually opened, the macro reportedly won't be invoked.If it is opened, CERT says, the virus apparently doesn'taffect a user's hard drive or the memory on the computer.