The Zotob.B virus, which surfaced earlier this month after Microsoft warned of the security flaw, has already hit media outlets including ABC, CNN, The Associated Press and The New York Times, among others, and has now gone global.
While most security firms initially labeled the worm a low-risk threat and had even predicted the Windows hole would be targeted by hackers developing more effective variants on a worm, several firms are warning the problem may be greater than anticipated.
According to the security outfit IMlogic Threat Center, the worms are now using a chat channels to allow gain hackers access and control of an infected machines.
"The rapid spread of these worms is illustrating the special problems posed by threats that can leverage real time data channels like IM," warned IMlogic's security experts.
Microsoft released a statement today saying their analysis revealed new worms variants of the existing Zotob. However, The software maker continues to rate the issue as a low threat for customers and will continue to review the situation.
Redmond released a "critical" patch Aug. 9 for the vulnerability, which is most severe on Windows 2000 systems. Those computers can be accessed remotely through the operating system's "Plug and Play" hardware detection feature.
The bug takes advantage of a vulnerability in Microsoft's plug-and-play code found in Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Server 2003.