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How To Fight 'Melissa'

Here's a quick primer on how to recognize the Melissa computer virus and what to do if it shows up in your computer.

DETECTING MELISSA: If you get an email from someone you know with the subject line, "Important Message from," followed by their name, there's a good chance you've got Melissa lurking in your in-box.

A macro virus can't infect your computer unless you open the attachment, so the best thing to do is don't open the message or the attached Word document. Delete it immediately.

ELIMINATING MELISSA: If you opened up the attached Word document you've now been infected with the Melissa virus. Go to the Web site of one of several anti-virus companies:

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PROTECTING AGAINST MELISSA:Katherin Fithen of the Computer Emergency Response Team at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, urges all computer users to update their virus software and use it.

Macro viruses are easy to write, and thus, easy to develop software patches to defend against. Check with the manufacturer of your anti-virus software often and get the latest updates.

Also be sure to tell Microsoft Word to prevent automatic macro running. It's under the menu item "Tools." Select "Options...," and then select the "General" tab. Be sure the "Macro virus protection" box is checked.

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