Several major European companies have been crippled by an internet worm believed to have been spread by pro-Linux virus writers.
The worm has been dubbed ProLin, after the message it executes, or Shockwave, because it arrives in the guise of a Shockwave file. It has been branded a 'high risk' by antivirus vendor Network Associates and a 'medium risk' by vendors Symantec, Kaspersky Labs, Trend Micro and Sophos.
Chris McNab, network security analyst at Management Information Systems, described the threat as an email storm. "This is when a virus can easily repeat itself thousands of times and clog up an entire email system," he said.
Developed by a hacker known as The Penguin, it arrives attached to an email with the subject header 'A great Shockwave Flash movie'. Once the program is run, the virus emails itself to everyone in the user's Outlook address book.
Jack Clark, European product manager at Network Associates, said: "We upgraded it to high risk last week after it infected a number of global companies based in the US. We are seeing a steady rate of infection, but it could yet turn into an outbreak."
Security experts have warned that hackers could try to catch consumers and businesses off guard in the run-up to Christmas. Viruses based on Christmas e-cards have already been found.
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