Once it infects a computer, the virus – called variously W32.Blaster.Worm, W32/Lovsan.worm or MSBlast – tries to invade other machines using local connections, thereby affecting entire networks.
The worm carries a hidden message that taunts Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft. The company produces the Windows range of software, which is used on about 90 per cent of the world’s computers.
“I just want to say LOVE YOU SAN!!” reads the message. “billy gates [sic] why do you make this possible? Stop making money and fix your software!!”
This type of virus is known as a worm because it can spread itself. According to internet security firms, the worm works by downloading and running the MSBlast.exe file.
“It’s very clever because it doesn’t need to be run by the user,” said Nabil Bou Diab, a computer software consultant based in Qatar. “Usually you need to open your email or something before the virus can spread.”
Microsoft offers a solution to stop the MSBlast worm, whose existence has been known for about a month. The so-called patch, which can be downloaded from the company's windowsupdate.com website, aims to stop the worm exploiting a vulnerability in Windows.
Main systems affected
Windows NT Servers
Windows NT Workstation
Windows 2000 Servers
But the worm has been craftily constructed to attack this website and prevent computer users applying the patch, according to the security company Symantec.
Windows users can download the necessary anti-virus file to tackle MSBlast by visiting websites such as mcafee.com or symantec.com and following instructions according to which type of Windows software they are using.
The worm is not as destructive as the recent Slammer virus but could emulate the Code Red worm, which reportedly infected 200,000 computers two years ago.