A New Virus Wreaks High-Tech Havoc

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On Friday, a virus code-named "Melissa" made its present felt in thousands of computers running a Microsoft e-mail program called Outlook. So far the virus has done nothing more serious than make copies of itself and e-mail those copies out to unsuspecting recipients. That in itself is bad enough, since it can overload and crash e-mail servers, but what’s most insidious about the Melissa virus is that, like an alien from a sci-fi B-movie, it disguises itself as someone you know.

News stories about computer viruses tend to be more hype and hoax than hot zone. Remember the Michelangelo virus, which was supposed to wreak havoc on hard drives worldwide in the spring of 1992, but then somehow failed to materialize? But like other kinds of software, viruses are evolving and becoming more sophisticated. Over the past few months several of them, including Melissa and the so-called Happy99 virus, have established serious footholds on the Internet and in computers worldwide. MORE>>