A new internet worm in the form of a love letter, identified in Europe and the US yesterday, has already hit corporations in Australia.
Organisations in Australia including investment firm, Goldman Sachs and IT giant EMC have been infected by the virus, which spreads via Microsoft's Outlook email system.
Called the "Love Bug", the virus is carried in an email with "ILOVEYOU" in the subject line. A one-line message reads: "Kindly check the attached LOVELETTER coming from me". The accompanying attachment is named LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU-TXT.vbs.
If a user opens the attachment, the virus sends itself to all the contacts in the recipient's email address book. Since many of the people listed in a typical address book will work for the same company, opening the attachment can cause it to resend the message to everyone again and again -- a vicious circle that can ultimately cause the email servers to overload and crash.
According to software security firms, the virus also overwrites music and picture files that use the extensions JPG, JPEG, MP3 and MP2.
Security experts believe the virus may have the potential to cripple systems even more than last year's Melissa virus. In the US $2 billion damage from the I Love You virus has already been reported.
Experts believe the virus to have originated in the Philippines.