"Twas the Night Before Melissa"

Based on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas" (also known as "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas")

By Major Henry Livingston Jr. (1748-1828) (previously believed to be by Clement Clarke Moore)



 By Dana Wortman and Tracy Barger

CS 588 Problem Set 4








‘Twas the night before Melissa, and all through the world

Not a system was clunking, not an e-mail disturbed.

The servers were serving up pages with care,

Not knowing that terror soon would be there.


The virus lay dormant in someone’s email,

Awaiting a time when it could assail

Some unknowing peon in the realm of high-tech,

Who’d just settled down, a message to check.


When from the server there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.

The servers were crashing each in their time,

As the number of messages began to climb.


Frozen in fear, I knew not what to do.

When someone found out, I knew I’d be through.

When what to my wondering ears should I hear,

But report of a virus, described as severe.


They called it Melissa, deceptive and quick.

Who ever developed it must have been sick.

More rapid than others, the virus it came,

Emailing itself to the first fifty names.


Use Macros! How novel! Most users are clueless!

Not knowing how stupid the program they choose is!

So blindly did people open file upon file,

Not knowing the virus would spread all the while!


First security it lowers: enabling all macros,

The registry checked, for a phrase that’s enclosed.

If the phrase does exist, then the virus just sits,

If not, then to fifty others it transmits!


The registry set, to the secretive key,

Then infecting "Normal (dot) d-o-t"

If minute matches day, at cursor print this,

(Altered so slightly to keep rhythmic bliss):


"Twenty-two points, plus triple-word score,

Plus fifty points, and you I’ll outscore,

I’ve used all my letters, the ending is near,

The game is over, and I’m out of here."


So simple yet dangerous, this virus became;

One hundred thousand host deaths, Melissa did claim.

Yet how can we protect from a virus so evil,

Barring avoidance of email retrieval?


Try blocking the message at the host’s mail server.

This way acting as a system preserver,

Preventing reception of the message by one

Who might without knowledge be passing it on.


You might also try to enlist outside aid,

In the form of a scanner, a type of blockade.

Protecting your system from these fierce attacks,

With anti-virus software you can begin to relax.


But one more big issue remains in the mix:

Disable all macros, the last thing to fix.

With macros disabled, you could have avoided,

All of the "features" Melissa exploited.


So what have we learned from our costly endeavor?

Are all virus writers really that clever?

If VicodinES is at all to blame,

Then all virus writers want one thing: the FAME!