The "Melissa" virus continued to spread across the Internet during the weekend, overwhelming corporate and university mail servers.
After hobbling computer industry heavyweights such as Microsoft, Intel and Lucent Technologies on Friday, the little known macro virus rampaged through dozens of other companies during the weekend.
The virus spreads when a user opens up an infected Word 8 or Word 9 document - in either Office 97 or 2000 - and executes the macro script. In some cases, however, the virus can even spread automatically among those users who have configured their systems to not notify them when as macro is launched.
The most devious aspect of "Melissa" is how it spreads. The macro prompts Microsoft's Outlook e-mail program to send a document to the first 50 addresses in a user's address book, under the subject line "Important Message From" and then the user's name. "Here is the document that you asked for," the text inside the message reads. "Don't show anyone else ;-)."
Beware of e-mails bearing the "important message" signature line, even if they are coming from individuals that regularly send you e-mail. Delete any such messages you receive, and notify thesemder that they have been infected. Above all, don't open attachments that contain macros (Word will generally provide a warning before opening) unless you know the document is genuine and free of virus.