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Bugbear worm threatens Internet

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Virus writers often unleash multiple versions of the same virus, tweaking it over time in an effort to evade antivirus-software companies' scanners.
•Infected e-mails can carry various "from" addresses, which don't necessarily belong to the real sender.
•The subject lines and message texts also vary widely and in some cases are stolen from documents and files found on the victim's PC.
•The virus-laden attachment is compressed with a modified UPX format and shows up with multiple names.

(CNN) -- A new version of a computer "worm" is making its way across the Internet with an eye toward working its way into computers storing financial information.

The worm, dubbed Bugbear.B, can record keystrokes in an effort to steal passwords from computer users, said Vincent Weafer, who monitors computer viruses for the software security firm Symantec.

"Once on your machine, it tries to steal information -- passwords -- information it could then use to try to attack you at a later stage," Weafer said.

He added that the worm tries to get into computers using lots of different names and titles.

Breaking in

Though most major banks do not put sensitive information on the Internet, the worm will attempt to use information recorded from that machine -- such as passwords -- to break into computers that do contain financial data.

"What it's trying to do afterwards is break into that bank," Weafer said.

It also could disrupt networked printers, "which causes them to print garbage or disrupt their normal functionality," Symantec warns.

Targeting Windows

The worm targets computers running most Microsoft Windows operating systems. It is passed from computer to computer via e-mail carrying an attached file and is released when a user opens that file.

Subject lines on e-mails that carry the virus include "Hello," "Just a reminder" or "Bad news," according to Symantec.

The company has raised its assessment of the threat the worm poses due to a large number of complaints. Weafer said software patches that can block Bugbear.B -- a variant of an earlier worm -- are available online.

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