‘Melissa. A’ maker David L. Smith pleaded guilty but said that he did not expect such a high economic impact. This malware was created in memory of a Florida topless dancer he had fallen in love with.
Smith was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
He spent 20 months in prison and was fined $ 5,000, and then collaborated to help the FBI in the search of Jan de Wit, the Dutch creator of the Anna Kournikova computer virus.
Have any of us been infected with Melissa?
Melissa is a rapidly spreading macro virus that is transmitted as an email attachment that, when opened, disables a variety of protections in Word 97 or Word 2000 and causes the virus to hate the first 50 individuals in each of the user’s address books if the user has the Microsoft Outlook email program.
Although it does not kill files or other tools, Melissa has the power to disrupt corporate and other mail servers when a much larger wave is the ripple of e-mail delivery. On Friday 26 March 1999, Melissa caused the incoming email to be shut down by Microsoft Corporation. They have mentioned being influenced by Intel and other businesses.
The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), sponsored by the United States Department of Defense, provided a alert about the virus and created a patch
How Melissa Works
Melissa arrives in an attachment to an e-mail note with the subject line “Important Note from] someone’s name” [and body text that reads “Here’s the document you requested… don’t show anyone else ;-)”
The appendix is also called LIST.DOC.
When the receiver clicks on or otherwise opens the attachment, it reads the infecting file to the device storage.
The file itself appeared in an Internet newsgroup alt.sex and includes a list of passwords that include memberships for different websites.
The file also contains a Visual Basic script which copies the virus-infected file into the normal.dot template file that Word uses for custom settings and default macros.
It also creates this entry in the Windows registry:
The virus then creates an Outlook Object using the Visual Basic code, reads the first 50 names in each Outlook Global Address Book, and sends each the same e-mail note with virus attachment that caused this particular infection. The virus only works with Outlook, not Outlook Express.
In a small percentage of cases (when the day of the month equals the minute value), a payload of text is written at the current cursor position that says:
“Twenty-two points, plus triple-word score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game’s over. I’m outta here.”
The quote refers to the game of Scrabble and is taken from a Bart Simpson cartoon.
The virus also disables some security safeguards. These are described by CERT and the anti-virus software sites.
How to Avoid Melissa
Avoiding Melissa does not mean you can’t read your e-mail – only that you have to screen your notes and be careful about what attachments you open.
If you get an e-mail note with the subject, “Important Message from [the name of someone],” and it has an e-mail attachment (usually a 40 kilobyte document named LIST.DOC), simply DO NOT OPEN (for example, do not click on) the attachment. Write down the e-mail address of the person it came from. Delete the message. Then send a note to the sender so that they know that their computer has been infected.
As a rule, viruses are named by antivirus companies, who avoid using proper names. The Melissa virus was named by its creator, David Smith, for a Miami stripper.