The virus has already hit hundreds of UK businesses including shopping portal Shopsmart.com, an NHS trust and three blue chip companies.
The Love Bug, so called because infected emails have the header ‘I love you’, contains an attachment that would affect users if opened.
Like the Melissa virus which hit the Internet earlier in this year, if a user has Microsoft Outlook, Love Bug will try to send itself to everyone in a user’s address book, even if the attachment has not been opened.
Users should update anti-virus software and delete messages with the subject line ‘I LOVE YOU’. An infected message contains a file called LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs.
Alex Shipp, the discoverer of the worm and an anti-virus technologist at Messagelabs, said the email ASP had seen 1200 copies of the Visual Basic Script (VBS) virus over a period of two hours.
‘The growth of the virus, which has taken down web servers, has been explosive,’ said Shipp. ‘It’s spreading much faster than Melissa.’
Jack Clarke, European anti-virus product manager at Network Associates, confirmed the existence of the worm and said the anti-virus software vendor was handling multiple calls about it taking down email servers.
‘If you’re cavalier you may get caught out,’ said Paul Ducklin, head of research at Sophos, who added that users who follow good security practice would remain unaffected.
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