Remember: Never double-click (or open) ANY file, especially an email attachment, regardless of who sent it, until you first scan that file with your anti virus program.
If you receive a message from ANYONE at all -- it doesn't matter who it might be (your closest friend even), with the subject line "Important Message from name of sender" and body text saying "Here is the document you asked for ... don't show it to anyone else ;-)" and a Word document attached (of any name, but probably "List.doc") then DELETE THE MESSAGE. Do NOT open the Word document.
This simple advice will remove the virus infected document and stop the spread of it dead in it's tracks. If you receive such a message fitting this description delete it immediately and then advise the sender that they have been infected.
Don't be hostile, anyone is subject to malicious virus infection, and often is quite unaware that they are infecting others. But do inform any "carrier" so appropriate action can be taken. And even though it might be embarrassing, if you are the propagator of a virus, and discover it, notify everyone you may have infected as soon as possible.
The Melissa virus is of a class of viruses gaining popularity among evil people known as a "macro virus". They are macro viruses because they reside in the macros that legitimate programs use to enhance their usefulness. Unfortunately, it is an easy way for malicious people to infect many users of popular programs.
There are some other steps you can take that can help in your defense of macro viruses. Since the level of protection supplied by Microsoft is rudimentary at best, you have to take your own precautions.
First -- make sure that any built-in macro guards are turned on:
In Word 97, go to the menu option Tools -- then select Options -- then select the General tab. Make sure that the box next to Macro virus protection in checked ON.
In Word 2000, go to the menu option Tools -- then select Macro -- then select Security. Make sure the Security Level is set to Medium or High (the dialog box explains what each level provides).
Now, this is not a complete protection. It only gives you a warning that a document you are about to open contains a macro in it. The macro may or may not be a virus (and of course, most aren't). But, unless you are absolutely sure of the source, and that the document doesn't have a virus, you should click on "Disable Macros". This will open the document, but not run any macros (good or bad). Or you can click on the Cancel button which closes the document, then run your anti virus software over the document to see if it has any viruses.
If you are infected, first of all -- don't panic ! The Melissa virus is a nuisance, but it doesn't destroy any documents or files (there are many viruses that do). It will take a little time to remove it from your computer, but there is no lasting damage.
First you need to delete any infected email messages you have, so you don't re-infect yourself after cleaning the virus out. Look for any message in all folders that contains "Important Message" in the subject line, along with an attachment (as marked by a paperclip icon).
Then virus scan your entire hard drive(s) and any other removable media that you save Word documents to (CD-RW, floppies, Zip disks, etc.). Make sure that your scanning software has the updated Melissa and Papa virus definitions. If it doesn't, get them from your product's website. The anti virus product should identify the virus, and in most cases, fix it for you (or at least give you steps to inoculate).
Papa is an Excel virus, similar to Melissa. It is also a macro virus, but this time affects MS Excel spreadsheets. It infects your system from an email, with the subject line "from all net and Fred Cohen". The body of the message instructs you to NOT disable Macros, which of course, sets you up for infection. There is a spreadsheet attached with the filename "path.xls". The virus will be activated if you open this spreadsheet up in Excel.
Follow the same precautions and virus scanning procedures for Papa as you would for Melissa. Look for "Fred Cohen" in the subject line when you are searching your email.
Remember, it's up to us all to practice safe computing.
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