A new instant messaging worm dubbed Bizex is making the rounds, targeting ICQ users with invitations to visit a site that can install malicious code on the target computer.
Russian anti-virus company, Kaspersky Labs, has issued a warning about the virus, terming it an "epidemic" and estimating that 50,000 PCs worldwide had been affected. But a Symantec security researcher said his company hadseen only a handful of Bizex infections and ranked the virus's threat level as low.
"We've seen five infections so far," a Symantec director, Brian Dunphy, said. "It's one of several new viruses we've picked up today."
The Bizex worm sends a message directing recipients to a website called "jokeworld", according to Kaspersky Labs' advisory. Once the site is loaded, Bizex begins infecting the target computer, accessing the recipient's ICQ list to send copies of itself to other users and scanning the infected computer for information on installed payment systems, including those for Wells Fargo & Co. and American Express UK, according to the advisory.
Kaspersky Labs said the worm seemed an attempt to make money by stealing financial information - but the attempt appeared to have been short-lived.
The security company said the jokeworld website closed down just four hours after the worm made its debut.
Because Bizex requires users to click on a link before any damage can occur, avoiding infection was easy if users followed the precaution of not clicking on unknown links, Dunphy said.