Sophos, a world leader in corporate anti-virus protection, is warning users about a new worm that can spread by clicking on an attachment pretending to be photographs of teen pop princess Britney Spears.

VBS/Britney-A arrives in the victim's inbox with the subject line "RE:Britney Pics", body text "Take a look at these pics..." and attachment "BRITNEY.CHM." When executed, the file displays a message similar to "Enable ActiveX To See Britny Pictures" (sic) before infecting the hard drive and sending itself to all addresses in the Outlook address book. The worm also attempts to distribute itself via Internet Relay Chat.

"Britney has joined the ranks of glamorous, highly attractive people to have viruses written about them," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos Anti-Virus. "Previous stars to receive this treatment include Anna Kournikova and Jennifer Lopez."

"Britney is a very popular celebrity and many computer users - from teenyboppers to fascinated fathers - would be interested in seeing photos of her," Cluley continued. "Users should remember basic safe computing rules and not be coaxed into opening any unsolicited email attachments."