The Melissa virus continues to be the virus that will not die, as two new, much more destructive Melissa variants have been discovered and are spreading across the world via e-mail.
As predicted by security experts when the original Melissa virus outbreak occurred in March, virus writers have co-opted Melissa's code to create similar but different viruses which have been let loose upon networks.
The latest variants, Melissa.U and Melissa.V, propagate themselves in a similar fashion to the original Melissa, but now carry a potentially disastrous payload, according to antivirus security vendor Network Associates.
Both variants are engineered so as to appear to have been sent from a friend, and include the subject line "pictures" in the case of Melissa.U, and "My Pictures" in the case of Melissa.V.
In both cases, the sender's registered Microsoft Word 97 or Word 2000 username, if available, will follow in the subject line. The body of the e-mail message will read, "what's up?" in the case of Melissa.U, and will be blank in the case of Melissa.V.
If activated, Melissa.U will invoke a Messaging API (MAPI) e-mail client and send itself to the first four e-mail addresses in the address book, which often include distribution lists. It will then attempt to delete the following system files: c:\command.com, c:\io.sys, d:\command.com, d:\io.sys, c:\Ntdetect.com, c:\Suhdlog.dat, and d:\Suhdlog.dat, which are necessary when booting up a computer.