Windows users take heed: a new and potentially destructive virus is being spread through e-mail systems and has already affected a number of corporations.
The ExploreZip worm is a trojan horse program and will affect computers running Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT. The worm is being spread as an e-mail attachment and has the ability to destroy common files such as word processing documents and spreadsheets. It’s being transmitted automatically to names in a victim’s address book.
Security firm Network Associates rates ExploreZip’s risk level as high, and encourages users to immediately delete any e-mail message that starts “I received your e-mail, and I shall reply ASAP. Till then, take alook at the zipped docs.”
While it is considered to be potentially more dangerous than the recent Melissa virus, ExploreZip is technically not a virus but a worm. Viruses can automatically replicate themselves, yet worms can not.
The worm is believed to have originated in Israel earlier this week and has already disabled computer systems of both personal and corporate users. Microsoft Corp., Boeing Co., Credit Suisse First Boston and Merrill Lynch have all been affected.
Pam Wickham, a spokeswoman for General Electric, said that the worm entered its computer system Thursday morning and caused disruptions and a partial shut-down within the company. It has since been contained, she said.
“It came and went like a tornado,” Wickham said.