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New variants on an old macro virus showed up this week. First spotted in September last year, the Thus virus tries to erase all the data on an infected hard drive.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: "We didn't get any calls. This really isn't an issue if you are running anti virus software - just about everything should catch it."

He said that Sophos had been hearing panic from the city for a couple of weeks, but that although it is a commonly encountered virus it "isn't a big deal" if anti virus software is running. However he acknowledged that it could be a problem for home users who would be less likely to have back ups of their data.

It is called the Thursday virus because one file in the payload was called Thus. Cluley said that this had caused some confusion because it arrived on a Wednesday.

Data recovery specialists Ontrack issued an alert after several customers were infected. The company said that it could restore lost data very easily. "As experts in the data recovery field, we feel obliged to inform PC users of potential data loss events," a company spokesman said. ®

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