The internet was under attack last night by the fastest-growing computer virus in history.
Worldwide systems were buckling after the ‘Sobig.F’ spread to 134 countries in just 96 hours, generating tens of millions of e-mails.
Experts fear it could increase the volume of electronic traffic by a staggering 60per cent, slowing the internet to a crawl.
It is believed to have cost British businesses alone hundreds of millions in lost orders and system crashes. The global cost will be immense.
Individual companies have been bombarded with millions of copies of the virus, while home users have seen their machines “jammed” by up to 6,000.
The PC World chain said tens of thousands of customers had brought in computers to be “cleaned” by technicians.
Experts say Sobig appears to have been written by senders of “spam” – unwanted junk e-mail – trying to find ways past internet filters which block their messages.
“Sobig. F is the fastest-spreading virus of all time and if it carries on at this pace for a few more days it will become the most prevalent too.”
MessageLabs, a British-based Internet security firm, said it had intercepted more than a million copies of Sobig.F in 24 hours, more than for any other virus.
Sobig.F spreads when unsuspecting users open attachments in e-mails that contain such headings as “Thank you”, “Re: Details” or “Re: Wicked Screensaver”.
Keep anti-virus software up to date or use virus removal tools, never open an e-mail attachment unless they know what it is and delete uninvited e-mail – particularly from an unknown sender.