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New "peace" virus infects Excel

A new type of virus, which carries a French message calling for "peace at last," affects Microsoft Excel documents on Windows.

    A new type of computer virus claims to deliver "peace at last," but users whose computers were infected with it aren't feeling so peaceful today.

    Apparently the message, En fin la paix--which translates to "peace at last"--is part of a new type of computer virus, according to Network Associates. Discovered in Paris, it infects Microsoft Excel documents on the Windows platform.

    Unlike the common macro viruses that infect both Excel and Microsoft Word, this new type of virus, being dubbed an "Excel formula infector," inserts itself into a formula on an Excel spreadsheet.

    It is activated every time an infected document is open and then again when a calculation is made.

    Like a lot of new viruses out there, the actual damage it does seems to be fairly minimal. It will hide the toolbar, insert a new tab into a worksheet, and then prompt the document to save as "En fin la paix," said Gene Hodges, director of product management for Network Associates, which is the company that resulted from a merger between McAfee Associates and Network General.

    That means if a user has more than one spreadsheet open at once, he or she could wind up losing data if all the programs are prompted to save as the same file, Hodges said.

    Hodges said a large French company reported the virus to the Network Associates labs last night. Although new viruses are discovered daily, especially with the rapid transport the Internet provides via email attachments, Hodges said that new types of viruses don't come along so often.