A new variant of the Melissa virus, called VBS.Monopoly - targeting Microsoft CEO Bill Gates - has been posted to virus list sites and is spreading across networks.

VBS.Monopoly spreads using the MS Outlook client but, unlike Melissa, it utilizes - and was created with - Visual Basic Script, not MS Office Macros.

Spreading through email, an infected message contains the subject line "Bill Gates joke," the message "Bill Gates is guilty of monopoly. Here is the proof. ;-)" and an image of Gates' face on a monopoly board. However, like Melissa, the virus will then send itself to all addresses in the Outlook address book.

VBS.Monopoly will also send another message to several public mail boxes at [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] In this message, the virus will send a list of names and addresses from the Outlook address book, as well as information from the infected user's computer. The virus also modifies the system registry so that the information will not be sent again if a client is re-infected.

When the email attachment Monopoly.vbs is activated by users, it creates the image file monopoly.jpg in a temporary folder, as well as a monopoly.wsh file and monopoly.vbe. The VBE file contains an encrypted VBScript and is executed with the WSH file, according to ThunderStore.

Not all anti-virus vendors are overly worried about VBS.Monopoly, however, as they have not as yet received any cases of infections through their users or that the virus was rampant among systems.

"This is interesting, because of the payload, showing Bill Gates on the monopoly board, but it's not in the wild," said Sal Viveros of Network Associates Inc. (NAI of California.

"A competitor sent out an alert on it, even though it wasn't in the wild, and they kind of jumped the gun. We have it at a low-risk assessment."

NAI does admit that, as more malicious individuals become aware of VBS.Monopoly's existence, it may start to infect networks.

"We do have it on our watch-list of viruses that may become an issue," said Viveros. "As always, we recommend that customers get their anti-virus software updated."