Possible messages include "someone sent me this document which is stolen from a secret government body ... about John Paul's death." Other messages try to entice recipients into opening the attached file by claiming Michael Jackson has died, Osama bin Laden has been captured by U.S. soldiers or the MyDoom e-mail worm author has been arrested by Microsoft Corp., Sophos said.
Using supposed "breaking news" to persuade users to open a message and click on an attachment is a long-favoured method among virus writers, according to Sophos Senior Technology Consultant Graham Cluley.
"This is a fairly common trick. It doesn't take Albert Einstein to think this one up," Cluley said.
Although the worm is currently slow-spreading Cluley flagged it as an example of the kinds of social-engineered threats that users should watch out for.
The worm spreads via e-mail or P-to-P (peer-to-peer) file sharing networks.
It appears to be targeted at both news hounds and geeks, with mentions of the MyDoom worm, Cluley said. Also, it spreads on P-to-P networks by copying itself to the directory for sharing information on the server, purporting to be source code for the Sasser worm.
Users are advised to update their antivirus software against the threat.