Melissa Virus Back In Force, Symantec Post New Definition (Updated)

A new strain of the nasty Melissa virus has cropped up. The Melissa virus, which originally became "popular" this past summer, works by automatically generating e-mail messages to people listed in a useris address book. While seemingly harmless, the amount of mail messages generated could cause a "denial of service" situation. According to Symantec:

WHAT: Researchers at the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center are warningcomputer users of Melissa.W, a variant of the damaging Melissa virus thatuses Microsoft Outlook to e-mail itself as an attachment.

CHARACTERISTICS OF INFECTION: Melissa.W, is a macro virus that has wormcapabilities. It spreads via email with the subject line displaying"Important Message From (user name)." and text which reads "Here is thatdocument you asked for...donit show anyone else;-)" The attachment name canvary.

PAYLOAD: Melissa.W will email the virus to the first 50 people in auseris Microsoft Outlook address book and infect each subsequent documentthat is opened. The overriding results could potentially create an effectsimilar to a Denial of Service attack (DoS) due to the volume of emails thiscreates.

RECOMMENDATIONS/PROTECTION: SARC recommends administrators and consumersfilter for the subject line and text body immediately.Symantec anti-virusproducts for the PC and Mac platforms will detect all known Melissa variantsto date and repair most. SARC is currently working on a fix for users whoreceive viruses that have been carried on Macintosh Office 2001 documents,including the Melissa.W virus. SARC expects to have the repair available onFriday.

SYMANTEC ANTIVIRUS RESEARCH CENTER: SARC is one of the industryislargest dedicated team of virus experts. With offices located in the UnitedStates, Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands, the sun never sets on SARC.The centeris mission is to provide swift, global responses to computer virusthreats, proactively research and develop technologies that eliminate suchthreats, and educate the public on safe computing practices. As newcomputer viruses appear, SARC develops identification and detection forthese viruses, and provides either a repair or delete operation, thuskeeping users protected against the latest virus threats.

(Updated) Symantec has posted new virus definitions at their Web site. Users of Norton AntiVirus should download the latest virus definitions to make sure they are protected from the MelissaW virus.