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E-Mail Virus Hits Campus

By William M. Rasmussen, Crimson Staff Writer

The computer virus "Romeo and Juliet," also known as "BleBla," bombarded Harvard e-mail accounts yesterday, inconveniencing users but causing little serious damage.

The virus, which spreads by resending itself to infected e-mail address books, prevents the opening of certain files and sends them to the computer's recycle bin.

But users can retrieve the files from the recycle bin and will not suffer permanent damage to their computer.

"In its current form, the virus is very good at transmitting itself, but its payload is relatively minor," said Kevin S. Davis '98, the coordinator of Residential Computing, who is also a Crimson editor.

Davis said the virus will "inconvenience a lot of students" but should not cause irrevocable loss of data on their hard drives.

But he warned that a programmer could make a change in the virus that could potentially give it much more damaging properties.

"It doesn't have the potential in its current form to overload the system," he said. "It hasn't impacted the performance of the mail system."

But Davis strongly urged students to take steps to protect their computer.

Justin J. Munns '04 said downloading the Norton anti-virus program prevented "Romeo and Juliet" from infecting his computer.

Oscar Eugenio Guido '04, however, was not so lucky.

"I got the virus from a friend," he said. "I didn't even open the attachment. It opened by itself."

Guido said the virus then sent itself to addresses in his inbox.

"One of my [teaching fellows] told me he received 19 e-mails from me," he said.

--Staff writer William M. Rasmussen can be reached at wrasmuss@harvard.edu.

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