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One day after hitting Israeli computers hard, the Internet worm MS-Blaster appeared to be easing yesterday.

Symantec Security Responses reported a 40% decrease in the number of new victims of the virus compared to Tuesday. The company said the worm appeared to be less severe than some of its predecessors, such as Code Red and Slammer. The firm estimated that some 200,000 computers - mostly PCs - were affected worldwide, several thousand of them in Israel. Computers in large companies were largely unaffected since most of them are protected by a firewall.

Microsoft said yesterday that it had called on law enforcers to track down the source of the worm, but the chances of finding it are considered slim.

While the virus does not damage files, it is likely to cause other damage. An analysis of the worm's code reveals that as of Saturday, computers that have contracted the virus will begin attacking the Windowsupdate.com site, causing it to crash. Microsoft says that it is taking steps to prevent this.

Local PC owners, whose computers keep going on the blink every few minutes can prevent the phenomenon by pressing the "start" button, choosing the "operate" program, and typing in "shutdown-a." This will stop the computer from shutting down, and enable the user to contact www.microsoft.com/israel where detailed instructions are available how to get rid of the worm.