Memories of the Melissa virus

It all started with just one file being uploaded to the internet.

An infected Word document was posted to the 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.

Found this article interesting? Follow Graham Cluley on Twitter, Mastodon, or Threads to read more of the exclusive content we post.

Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

What do you think? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.