Sophos Anti-Virus, a world leader in corporate anti-virus
protection, has announced that users practising safe computing have
nothing to fear from the Melissa-X virus. However, users without
the latest version of their anti-virus software may be unable to
detect the virus.
The virus, a new version of the first mass email virus, Melissa,
which first hit in 1999, is spreading as an infected word document
created by the latest version of Microsoft Word - Word 2001 for
Macintosh. Although the attachment - anniv.doc - is a Word 2001
document, the virus will affect users of older version of Word on
both Macintosh and Windows systems and Sophos is urging users to be
"This is a wake-up call for anyone who thinks viruses happen to
other people," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at
Sophos Anti-Virus . "Everyone should be employing safe computing
practices. My message is simple - stop opening unsolicited
attachments; start treating your computer with the respect it
Sophos Anti-Virus was one of the first anti-virus companies to
announce an update for the virus. Users of other anti-virus vendors
may experience problems because the Melissa-X is written in the
very latest version of Word and their software may not be able to
scan for the virus.
"Unless users have the very latest version of their anti-virus
software, they may not be able to detect the Melissa-X virus, even
with a patch," added Cluley. "Some anti-virus vendors let their
users keep an old version of the software and just update the
identity files for new viruses. this works fine most of the time
but in cases like this it can be a real problem."
Sophos Anti-Virus updates its software every month and sends a
completely new version to every customer on CD. Incremental updates
for new viruses are also available to be downloaded from the Sophos
Sophos advises users to check their vendor's websites for the
latest patches and ensure they are running the latest version of
their anti-virus engine.
The Melissa virus was released in 1999 and was written by David
L.Smith in the USA. It was one of the first viruses to successfully
spread itself by email. Virtually all mass mailing viruses have
based themselves upon Smith's code. Smith himself was caught and
found guilty of causing more than 80 million dollars of damage in
1999. However, he is still awaiting sentence.