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Clone of 'Melissa' virus infects the Internet

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(CNN) -- Promising help in the mating game, a new Trojan virus similar to the "Melissa" bug is proliferating quickly across the Internet, computer security specialists cautioned this week.

The sneaky worm, disguised as a love matching program, spreads via e-mail, sending itself as an attachment twice to all addresses in an infected user's Windows Address book, according to Trend Micro. Often distributed as e-mail attachments, Trojan viruses are harmful programs disguised as something innocuous.

The subject line is usually "Matcher" and the misspelled message text is: "Want to find your love mates!!!/ Try this its cool.../ Looks and Attitude maching to opposite sex."

MESSAGE BOARD
 

The application, which shows up as a Windows executable file, was created in Visual Basic 6.0 and is closely related to a bug that choked mail servers around the world in 1999, costing millions of dollars.

"This looks like a cheap rip-off of the original "Melissa" virus. Unfortunately people are still falling for it," said David Perry of Trend Micro. "Our hope is that people will take this warning seriously and not open any .exe attachments."

Rated as a medium risk

Clicking on the attachment, which also goes by the name the "Lonely Heart Virus," sends the worm into action, which hunts addresses in Microsoft Outlook and then sends out copies of itself.

"In some cases the worm repeats itself every one minute. As a result mail servers might be overloaded with worm's messages," warned the Internet security firm F-Secure in an alert on the virus.

The source of the infection remains unknown. But "Matcher" can modify a PC's C:\Autoexec.bat file to include the line, "from: Bugger."

Internet security specialists became aware of "Matcher" on Wednesday and rated it as a medium risk. While it could clog e-mail servers if left unchecked, it does not destroy or disclose computer files.

Symantec, Trend Micro, McAfee and other major anti-virus companies said the latest versions of their disinfectant programs can eradicate the worm.

"Since we posted the alert, we haven't detected any additional infections with our customers. The filters have been able to stop it," said Trend Micro spokesperson Sandy Meyer.



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RELATED SITES:
Network Associates
McAfee.com
F-Secure
Symantec

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