OT: Computer Virus Forces Shutdown of County E-Mail System

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Computer Virus Forces Shutdown of County E-Mail System The Associated Press

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - A computer virus blamed for more than $80 million in damage last year has scored another hit, this time in the Snohomish County government's e-mail system.

The virus known as Melissa eluded virus defenses and infested county computers about noon Thursday, resulting in shutdown of the e-mail system, said Colin Bottem, director of information services. The rest of the county's computer services were not affected, Bottem said.

E-mail servers were "being cleaned up" and the system should be operating normally again this afternoon, Bottem said.

Melissa struck thousands of e-mail systems last March, disguised as an "important message" from a friend, and spread around the world like an electronic chain letter. In December, David L. Smith, a computer programmer, pleaded guilty in Newark, N.J., to creating the virus and using a sex Web site to spread it through cyberspace.

When the message is opened, the virus goes to the recipient's computer address book and sends the same message to the first 50 e-mail addresses. "It replicates itself," Bottem said.



-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), February 11, 2000

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