Owners of PalmOS-based devices beware: Researchers at an antivirus software company have discovered a new virus carrying a destructive load that can infect PalmOS applications and replicate itself.

The destructive nature of the PalmOS/Phage virus distinguishes it from the recent “Liberty Crack” Trojan horse program that also was designed for the Palm Inc. platform, antivirus software vendor Network Associates Inc. said in a statement Friday.

However, as the virus has not yet been found outside controlled environments, the researchers at the company’s McAfee Avert unit have given it a low risk assessment, the statement said.

When executed, the virus fills the screen of a PalmOS-based device with a dark gray box and terminates the application that is running and then replicates itself to other applications, according to the statement.

More information about the virus can be found on the Web at http://www.avertlabs.com/.

Network Associates, in Santa Clara, Calif., can be reached at http://www.nai.com/.