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"Many companies have strengthened their defences against attack from the internet"
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Saturday, 27 May, 2000, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
E-mail virus threatens US
The authorities in the United States are warning of a new and dangerous computer virus spreading through e-mail systems that use Microsoft software.

A number of corporate systems are already reported to have been hit and some shut down.

Killer Resume facts
Spreads using Microsoft Word attachment
Sends itself to all names in user's e-mail address book
Deletes computer files when closed
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned that many more systems could become infected over the coming days.

Earlier this month, millions of computers around the world were closed down by the so-called Love Bug virus which originated in the Philippines and caused damaged estimated at up to $10bn.

The new virus is carried in a file attached to an e-mail entitled "Resume - Janet Simons", the name of an apparent job seeker.

It invites employers to click on an attachment to check the phony applicant's references.

'Killer Resume'

The California-based anti-virus company, Network Associates, said the virus had been dubbed the Killer Resume because of the way it strikes.

The Love Bug caused $10bn damage
Once opened it spreads to everyone in a user's e-mail address book, and important files are deleted when it is closed, rendering the user's computer inoperable.

The attachment is labeled "resume.doc" or "explorer.doc", as well as other names, Network Associates said.

While only Outlook users can spread the virus, any person with a computer running the Windows operating system who opens the infected Word document can have their files erased.

The FBI has advised computer users:

  • not to open e-mail with the suspicious resume subject line
  • to deactivate the executive summary feature in Microsoft Outlook
  • to delete the e-mail without opening it

The anti-virus industry was working on software patches to stop the virus, the FBI said.

It warned that the virus could spread over the next three days, with a potentially rapid surge in activity as business reopens overseas on Monday and in the United States on Tuesday, after the Memorial Day holiday.

Shades of 'Melissa'

But another US computer security company, Symantec, said the virus appeared to be fairly well contained because of the weekend shutdown.

If this was a regular work week and the virus hit earlier in the day we could have potentially seen more infections and damage

Symantec spokeswoman Yunsun Wee
Spokeswoman Yunsun Wee said that her company did not expect the virus to spread far because anti-virus programmes could be updated over the weekend.

The Killer Resume virus is similar to the "Melissa" bug which clogged e-mail systems around the world in March 1999 because both spread using an attached Microsoft Word file.

Microsoft has been developing an update to make its e-mail software more secure.

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See also:

15 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Love Bug probe widened
11 May 00 | Americas
Tackling cyber crime
11 Feb 00 | UK
A - Z: Hack attack
21 Feb 00 | Business
The web detectives
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