A new virus, called Prilissa, appears to be showing a wider scale of infection and potential damage than the notorious Melissa virus, a UK company has warned.
Prilissa, a variant of Melissa, was discovered 'in the wild' late last week. The virus works in the same way as Melissa, emailing itself to addresses in the host's Outlook address book with the subject: Message from (username). The message body contains: This document is very Important and you've GOT to read this!!!
When you open the attachment, the message tells users it will format their C: drive on 25 December, by modifying autoexec.bat, a critical boot file.
Internet technology company Star Internet said it saw the first example last Friday, but has now seen five copies of the virus from five different sources. This is more than the number of origins of the first Melissa, so shows a wider scale of infection and potential damage.
The five sources are big names, including a well-known high street bank, a large petrochemical company and a defence organisation, although Star will not name names.
Alex Shipp, virus technologist at Star, commented: "It seems to have had more effect on Europe and the UK. With Melissa, it hit the US on a Friday and Europe was not hit until the Monday, by which time many people knew about it. Given the size of these companies, Prilissa seems to have spread further."
Shipp said that the company still sees "loads" of Melissa infections. "In fact, I had one just ten minutes ago," he told vnunet.com.
"There is a massive lack of virus education. IT departments will have to take on more responsibility and educate their end users," he said.
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Malware has been in circulation for more than a year