UK companies have largely managed to stop the Naked Wife worm at their corporate gateways, despite a number of firms receiving infected emails from US organisations.
IT managers were warned on Wednesday about a new virus, entitled 'Fw:Naked Wife', that renders infected systems unusable. It arrives disguised as a flash movie attached to an email containing the text 'My wife never look like that! ;-)'.
While the flash movie is 'loading', the worm attempts to send itself to everyone in the user's Microsoft Outlook address book and also starts deleting files from the targeted computer's hard drive, leaving it requiring a reinstallation to be useable.
Although it caused significant damage to US organisations, Naked Wife has failed to penetrate more than a handful of UK and European companies, according to antivirus firms Sophos and Network Associates, which believe the scare is now pretty much over.
Richard Wang, deputy head of the virus lab at Sophos, told vnunet.com: "All the antivirus firms have issued updates and anyone who has updated their software should have blocked it at the gateway."
The new cyber attack follows earlier viruses that have pretended to be love letters, pictures of Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova, and even the Pikachu Pokemon character, all of which attempt to tap into popular culture to replicate quickly.
Naked Wife is believed to have been written using a copy of Visual Basic 6 licensed to an employee of a Brazilian organisation, who has been identified through a data string in the email's attachment.
However, experts believe this is unlikely to be the virus author but rather a case of identity theft performed by the attacker.
The worm carries a more destructive payload than in recent attacks and also features two new tricks previously unseen in mass mail viruses.
Jack Clark, European antivirus product manager at Network Associates, said: "It takes the infected user's name from their email address and uses it to sign the email sent to new victims, giving the message more credibility."
"Naked Wife also shows a video image whilst going through the address book and mailing itself out, which is a first for a mass mailer," he added.
Australian government to require technology and communications companies to provide access to messages
New bill avoids demanding 'backdoors' in encryption, but includes measures to compel companies to provide access to encrypted communications
Indonesian overclocker Ivan Cupa (with the aid of a lot of liquid nitrogen) achieves record overclock on AMD's latest Threadripper
Ssupermassive black hole is so big it corresponds to four per cent of the galaxy's total mass
Imminent attack will target a single bank with cloned cards used to fraudulently withdraw millions over one weekend