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SAN FRANCISCO/LONDON - A computer worm named "Goner" spread quickly through corporate and personal e-mail inboxes on Tuesday, deleting system files and clogging networks, Reuters reports. Several hundred thousand infections were reported in the United States at more than a hundred companies, according to government computer agencies and computer security firms.
Technology experts were calling the virus one of the most incredibly fast moving and potentially dangerous they'd seen.
The worm propagates itself to other computers through the Internet or other networks. It is affecting users of Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook and Outlook Express, Ian Hameroff, business manager of security solutions at Computer Associates International Inc., told Reuters. In addition, people using ICQ instant messenger and Internet Relay Chat also are susceptible to the worm because files can be transferred across those networks, he said.
The Goner worm arrives in e-mail systems with the subject line "Hi" and text that says: "How are you? When I saw this screen saver, I immediately thought about you I am in a harry (sic), I promise you will love it!" It includes an attachment posing as a screen saver, but once the the attachment is clicked, the worm sends itself to everyone in the user's e-mail address book, tries to close programs that are running and deletes certain system files, including security software, said Hameroff.
The virus spread throughout Europe, primarily in France, Germany and the United Kingdom. It was reported to be subdued today in Asia.