John Bryant
Arizona Computer Consultant
(602) 861-1738

"Love Bug" Mutations Pose Serious Threat

(June, 2000)

Last week, the world was introduced to what was hailed by some as “the most damaging and widespread virus or Internet worm that we’ve ever seen”. The “Love Bug” or “ILOVEYOU” virus was launched from the Philippines over the weekend and was an international threat within 6 hours of inception. Major corporations across the world experienced massive computer problems, and networks such as CNBC closed their email services for days. The FBI launched a full-scale investigation and initial estimates of the Love Bug’s potential damage was as high as $10 billion.

That was last week. Since then, the Love bug has become a hacker’s dream. The creative simplicity of the the ILOVEYOU virus allowed “copy cat” viruses to be made and distributed with ease. Variations started showing up almost immediately and within 24 hours there were 11 confirmed variations of the original virus. One of its latest variation was apparently released on May 18th and is far deadlier than it’s predecessor.

For once, the news media was a saving grace. The “ILOVEYOU” virus received worldwide attention almost from birth. By Monday afternoon, the message was out - “Don’t read any ILOVEYOU emails”.

NEWLOVE, the Love Bug’s latest variation has a very devious way to avoid such easy detection and entice its victims. Press releases and television coverage may not be as successful with this mutant strain, which is much more harmful, covert and powerful than the original.

"NEWLOVE" Threat

NEWLOVE, like all the Love Bug strains, is both a virus and a worm. This means it tries to damage your computer and then spreads itself to your friends through emails, chat rooms, and the Internet.

While the virus code is the same as Love Bug, NEWLOVE has several new, devious twists. First, the subject of the email is changed at random and may contain text from the previous victims (likely someone you know) personal files. Second, this virus is programmed to replace all of your hard drive files with copies of itself. When a file is replaced (rather than deleted) on your hard drive, it is almost impossible to recover. The result is an almost complete hard drive crash. Finally, NEWLOVE will try to send itself - with a new subject title - to everyone in your email address book.

This virus is dangerous, but not unstoppable. Instructions for protecting your system are on the accompanying page. Call us if you have any questions or need help with this virus.

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