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A new style of email virus that doesn't require an attachment to be opened to infect a computer has been discovered, forewarning the world of the next generation of viruses. The virus, called BubbleBoy, isn't itself very dangerous but its makeup is likely to be used as a foundation for more malicious variants. BubbleBoy infects Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express and requires Internet Explorer 5 -- standard on Windows 98 machines. It will not work on Windows NT, however. The virus uses embedded VB Script to write a file to your computer's hard disk. The next time you turn on the machine, the file alters the registration name from yours to BubbleBoy and then sends itself to everyone in the Outlook address book -- the same way in which the Melissa virus spread itself so quickly. A patch is available on Microsoft's Web site, although if IE5's security is set to High the virus will be unable to infect your machine. The virus was anonymously sent to anti-virus vendors, but has been posted at underground virus Web sites, making the emergence of more damaging viruses a virtual certainty. ® For the BubbleBoy patch, click here.

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