UPDATE: Worm hasn't turned on Australia yet

The worm is also yet to make its way into Australian-based companies, said Jakub Kaminski, virus research manager for Computer Associates' Vet Virus Control Centre in Melbourne.

"As far as I know there is no infection here. We have had no customer calls," Kaminski said.

According to reports, the worm has infected some Fortune 1000 software companies, but has not spread outside the IT industry. The Vet Virus Control Centre issued warnings about the worm, Win32/Melting.worm, after receiving samples from other antivirus and security companies earlier this week, Kaminski said.

Despite reports the worm has the potential to shut down Windows platforms and make the operating system permanently unusable, Kaminski said the worm is "not a serious threat".

"It can cause the machine to crash . . . but it's not really permanent damage."

Computer Associates said the Melting Worm is unleashed through Microsoft's Outlook running on Windows 95, 98, 2000 or NT. Once launched, the worm puts a copy of itself into a Windows directory as Meltingscreen.exe and remains in memory. Files with .exe extensions in a system's Windows directory are renamed .bin extensions.

Attempting to open an infected application may cause different versions of the application to be run; as a result Windows will not function correctly and might shut down incorrectly, Computer Associates said.

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