A new version of the Opanki worm that spreads via instant messenger hit users of America Online's AOL Instant Messenger on Wednesday, security company IMlogic said. The worm tricks victims into clicking on a malicious link by sending a variety of messages such as: "Hey check out this link:" or "LOL, click here:" Jon Sakoda, IMlogic's chief technology officer, said. After a victim clicks the link, the worm attempts to install remote control software on the victim's system and sends itself to all the contacts on the user's contact list, Sakoda said. IMlogic rates the new worm a "medium" risk.
The Opanki variant is another example of the increasing threat of worms that spread via instant messaging applications. The number of viruses, worms and spam spread over IM jumped by 2,700 percent in the second quarter of 2005 compared with the same period last year, according to a recent IMlogic report. The great majority of reported incidents, 86 percent, included an IM virus or worm, according to IMlogic. The advice to users is to be careful when clicking on links in IM messages--even when they seem to come from friends--and to use up-to-date antivirus software.