It all started with just one file being uploaded to the internet.
An infected Word document was posted to the alt.sex usenet newsgroup on March 26 1999. Most people probably thought a Word .DOC file was harmless, even though simple macro viruses had been circulating since mid-1995, and were all too eager to open the file to look through the list of passwords for pornographic websites.
That was the trigger which lead to the Melissa virus spreading like wildfire around the world.
Because when you opened the Word document it forwarded itself to the first 50 people in your Microsoft Outlook address book.
There were some other curiousities about Melissa which are sometimes forgotten. The virus occasionally corrupted documents by inserting the phrase ‘twenty-two, plus triple-word-score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game’s over. I’m outta here.’. This was a reference to an episode…
Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.