Melissa Virus Uses Microsoft Applications

FTLComm - Tisdale - March 30, 1999

I have mentioned this problem before but this is the first major virus to come along that makes use of the poorly designed Microsoft Word 97 and Word 2000. If you use this software and you also use Microsoft's Internet browser Explorer and its e-mail package Outlook Express you could download without knowing it a macro virus W97M_Melissa. Fortunately Melissa is not a destructive virus instead it is just another example of free enterprise at work.

Melissa simply installs 80 different pornographic web sites into the names list on your e-mail address book. You can find out more about it by visiting a web site that deals with the problem.
Many people do not use Microsoft Internet Explorer for reasons quite unrelated to its performance as a browser. Some people don't use it because they are down right displeased with the corporate behaviour of Microsoft while others object to using it because of its failure to follow the conventional rules set out for html (the language used by web sites)

I recommend that you always use an e-mail program to handle e-mail and not use either netscape or Internet Explorer which can handle mail. You will be safer and have more control over what comes in with a conventional e-mail application.

The basic issue with Microsoft's applications is that they rely upon a background operation called "Ole" to handle data that flows from one applications to another. It is a like so many Microsoft things borrowed from Apple's Open Doc protocol and since it was not an original idea the implementation is less then successful. The result is that it is extra ordinarily common for material you do not want passed around to be tagged onto a Word or Works document simply because "Ole" thought it was a good idea. Take one of your Word documents and open it in a convention text reader and see how much extraneous material from your hard drive or desk top has been stuffed into the document.

I would be among those who would urge you to avoid using Microsoft software. My reasons begin with the lack of control and security, the possibility that Microsoft has embedded some tracking data into the software and in turn your documents, the lack of convention whereby Microsoft tends to make their own rules, and perhaps most important of all the bad design of so much of the software that requires that it remain on your hard drive precisely where it was installed or it will cause all sorts of problems, and finally on whatever computer you install Microsoft software it will on its own fiddle with your system often altering and controlling the way you will have to do things merely because that software is on your machine.