An Internet-based email worm that masquerades as a picture of tennis star Anna Kournikova is spreading fast, so posing a severe threat to the world's email servers.
Alex Shipp, senior anti-virus technologist at MessageLabs, which scans customers email for malicious code, said the VBS/SST virus is "spreading twice as fast as the Love Bug".
He said that only four hours after MessageLabs first detected the bug, it has so far intercepted 2,076 copies of VBS/SST originating from 278 different firms.
The worm comes in an email with the subject line "Here you have, ;o)" and an attachment called AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs.
VBS/SST is written in Visual Basic Script and has mass mailing characteristics, which means it will email itself to everyone in a Outlook users' address book. The worm only infects machines running Microsoft Windows and will only be able to propagate on machines running Outlook that have not installed the patch Microsoft provided after the outbreak of the Love Bug, which used very similar propagation techniques.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said the virus writers were using the same tricks as those who created the Love Bug, but were been even smarter about what would motivate people into opening an infected message.
"People need to think more with their brains instead of concentrating on their forehand wrist action," said Cluley, who predicted nonetheless that the virus would have less of an effect than the Love Bug. ®