Daughter of Melissa strikes British businesses

As anticipated, the end of the century could be marred by a scourge of new viruses. Enter Prilissa which is already infecting the UK. ZDNet's Will Knight reports.

At least five major UK businesses, including a bank, have been hit by the so called 'daughter of Melissa' virus, Prilissa, according to ISP, Star Internet and anti-virus firm Network Associates.

The Prilissa virus spreads in a similar way to the now legendary Melissa virus and carries a nasty Christmas day payload that could format a victim's hard drive.

Technical consultant at Star Internet Alex Shipp, says that evidence of Prilissa's spread has been gathered from incoming email messages sent via his company's servers. Shipp told ZDNet Tuesday that a range of companies have shown signs of suffering from Prilissa epidemics. "All the companies are big names and would be well known," he says. "We've got in touch with each company but obviously they were reluctant to talk about the sort of damage it has caused. It's amazing that big companies don't have proper anti-virus protection."

Rob Eatwell of Network associates confirmed that it is also receiving reports of Prilissa infection by several UK firms. "It's more than an isolated incident. It's fairly widespread and it has a good propensity to spread." Eatwell advises all IT managers to look at security immediately and to pay particular attention to company gateways. "One reason that outbreaks are still happening is that corporates are failing to secure their gateways. They seem to have done this less than securing desktops."

Shipp says that increased understanding of email and viruses is likely to prevent Prilissa following in the footsteps of its mother but he does not discount the possibility. "People are certainly more aware. It hasn't broken today, but you have to remember that Melissa took three days to break out."

Prilissa, or W97M/PRI to give her technical name, infects Word 97 files and utilises the address book in Outlook Express. She also disables anti-virus software, conversion confirmation and recently opened file lists.

The subject line of emails infected with Prilissa reads, "Message From (username)," while the text in the body of the message says: "This document is very Important and you've GOT to read this!!!"

On Christmas day Prilissa will also present unlucky computer users with the disturbing message: "Vine... Vide... Vice... Moslem Power Never End...You Dare Rise Against Me... The Human Era is Over, The CyberNET Era Has Come!!!"

Take me to the Virus Workshop

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