The virulent MyDoom worm may be the most damaging infection ever seen – and politicians are not acting fast enough to protect their citizens, experts warn.

This stark warning from Internet security experts mi2g was issued at 12.44pm (GMT). The experts call the worm "highly sophisticated", and are concerned it may represent a new class of malware that has been researched by military establishments "for years."

Appearance of such malware was predicted last year. Called 'Distributed Intelligent Malware Agents (DIMA)' these combine denial of service attacks with key-logging, email spamming and other features, and have the capacity to mutate in an attempt to prevent eradication.

The firm's executive chairman DK Matai warned today: "This is an epidemic of unparalleled proportions in terms of the speed with which it is progressing and the damage and destruction that accompany it."

Calm before the storm

Matai is deeply critical of the world's political leadership in their dealing with the crisis – a crisis that has already caused $19.6 billion estimated economic damage in just 72 hours, the experts said: "Judging by the amount of calm on television and radio, it suggests that the politicians have not yet woken up to the full impact MyDoom is going to have on their citizens' safety and security," Matai said.

"The MyDoom episode has just begun and there is more to follow given the millions of infected computers now waiting for remote command."

Warning that the true purpose of MyDoom remains obscure, mi2g observes: "It would seem that a vast army of millions of infected computers is being assembled by it in order that these zombie machines can then be used to direct attacks at will".

The worm has reached 190 countries globally, and has begun mutating. MyDoom.b attempts to block access to a number of anti-virus sites and the Microsoft Web site.

"At present rates, MyDoom is the fastest spreading malware of all time. With the recent hike in infections, MyDoom has become comparable in destruction to Sobig – the worst malware of all time, which caused $37 billion of economic damage worldwide primarily in late 2003," the experts state.

The experts stress the existence of other features within the virus. Along with attacks on the SCO and Microsoft sites, they remind computer users of its key logging ability as an attempt at identiy, eBusiness and online transaction frauds.

Possibly emanating from the spammer community – itself subject to a variety of legal limitations in recent months – the experts also warn: "The backdoor Trojan installed by the worm following infection is further evidence linking MyDoom to both spam and phishing, as this is a technique often employed to turn a compromised machine into a relay for sending spam or phishing scam emails anonymously."

Finally, mi2g reports that online activities – surfing and email, for example – have seen service disruption in many instances.