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Monday, 15 May, 2000, 22:09 GMT 23:09 UK
Love Bug probe widened

Onel and Irene de Guzman: Under investigation
Investigators in the Philippines have identified 53 people they want to question in connection with the "Love Bug" virus which crippled computers around the world earlier this month.

But officials say any suspects who are eventually indicted will only face minor charges because the country does not have any laws against computer hacking.
Love Bug
The bug caused up to $10bn damage

Love Bug, described as the world's most destructive cyberspace attack yet, has caused billions of dollars in damage since appearing on 4 May.

A computer student dropout, Onel de Guzman, has already admitted he may have accidentally released the virus which afflicted tens of millions of computers.

An agent of the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said they had invited 53 people for questioning, but he did not elaborate.


A Philippine internet company said on Monday it had traced the origin of the Love Bug virus to a phone line at an apartment in the capital, Manila, using caller ID.

The flat is shared by Mr de Guzman, his sister Irene and her boyfriend Reonel Ramones.
Mr de Guzman
De Guzman dropped out of school

Mr Ramones is the only person to be arrested so far. He faces charges under the Access Devices Regulation Act, which covers illegal use of passwords.

The NBI said at least 10 names had been found on 17 computer diskettes seized from the Manila flat. It said they were being treated as possible suspects.

But NBI investigator, Carlos Caabay, added: "Since there is no law against computer crime in the country, we are studying filing malicious mischief and destruction of property against them."

The news agency AFP said the maximum sentence for malicious damage was six months.

New law

Law makers are now scrambling to correct the legislative vacuum.

House majority leader Eduardo Gullas promised to seek speedy approval of a new law that would criminalise computer hacking.

He said debate on the bill would begin this week and hoped it would be passed before 8 June.


The 17 diskettes taken from the De Guzman's home have been decoded by a joint team from the NBI and US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

They are expected to reveal some of their findings at a press conference on Tuesday.
NBI officer Carlos Caabay
Carlos Caabay: No computer crime law

Many of the names on the diskettes are said to be connected to a Manila computer college called AMA.

Last week, Mr de Guzman, a former student at the school, told reporters it was possible he had accidentally released Love Bug, but he did not admit to writing it.

Mr de Guzman failed to graduate earlier this year after submitting a thesis project which outlined a programme bearing a striking similarity to Love Bug.

AMA rejected the paper saying his proposal was illegal.


NBI investigators have also said they want to interrogate members of an underground computer group called GRAMMERSoft, to which Mr de Guzman belonged.

The GRAMMERSoft name appears in the programme for the Love Bug virus.

AMA is investigating reports that members of the group sold computer thesis projects to fellow students.

Love Bug, which appears in e-mail messages entitled "ILOVEYOU", only affects systems running Microsoft Windows with Windows Scripting Host enabled.

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See also:

15 May 00 | Europe
Global plan to fight cybercrime
11 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Love Bug may have been accident
09 May 00 | Americas
Defending cyberspace
04 May 00 | UK
'Love Bug' bites UK hard
15 Nov 99 | Sci/Tech
E-mail security bubble bursts
06 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Why write computer viruses?
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