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The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones
"If you use computers you are at risk"
 real 28k

US State Department Spokesman, Richard Boucher
"It did not get in to the classified system"
 real 28k

FBI Special Agent Ramiro Escudero
"We will ask all our field officers to get involved"
 real 28k

Friday, 5 May, 2000, 03:48 GMT 04:48 UK
FBI launches Love Bug inquiry
Hong Kong computer
The virus spread at great speed around the world
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States has launched a criminal inquiry into the source of a new computer virus that attacked systems all over the world.

US government agencies including the State Department, the CIA and the Defence Department said their computer systems had been hit by the virus but that top-security material had not been affected.

The virus, which first surfaced in the Far East, has been called the Love Bug, as it is contained in innocent-looking electronic-mail messages entitled "'I love you".

The virus was activated when computer-users opened the file, prompting their machines to send the infected file to every contact in their address lists.

The "Love Bug": tempting to open

This created a huge volume of electronic mail that overwhelmed computer systems.

Copycat viruses, able to elude anti-virus software designed to block "I love you" messages, are reported to have followed within hours.

Some users reported receiving the same e-mail, but one that replaced the "I love you" wording with "very funny joke".

Experts say more are likely to follow.

Philippines lead

Reports suggest the Love Bug may have originated in the Philippines.

The internet service provider Sky Internet Inc. in the Philippines is reported by ZDNet News to be hunting for the author who signed the virus code "Spyder, Manila, Philippines" and added the comment: "I hate go to school."

Tackling the virus
Do not open it
Delete it using shift del
As with all e-mails, if in doubt do not run any attachments you are not expecting
If you have run the attachment, isolate your machine from any network and phone your help desk or seek expert advice
Remember to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and be vigilant about attachments
Analysts estimate hundreds of millions of dollars of damage has been caused in the US, the most computer-dependent country in the world.

Computer security firm Trend Micro estimated at 1915GMT on Thursday that some 1.27 million computer files were infected worldwide, with nearly 1million in the US.

The State Department was forced to disconnect its computer systems from the internet, according to a spokesman.

US companies were likewise forced to take their e-mail systems off-line to isolate the spread of the virus and it was blamed for shutting down the web site, the state lottery in Florida.

It spread at great speed. One DJ in Texas received the e-mail virus 1,500 times.

Europe was also hard hit on Thursday. Among the victims were the UK House of Commons, the Danish parliament and the Swiss federal government computer networks, along with many banks and other companies.

About 10% of businesses around the UK are believed to have been affected.

In Asia, Dow Jones Newswires and the Asian Wall Street Journal were among the victims.


Computer experts advise people using Microsoft Outlook who receive the e-mail not to open it, but to shift-delete it immediately.

If the message is opened, users should on no account open the attachment that comes with it.

It crashed all the computers

Dow Jones, Hong Kong

If the attachment is opened, experts advise users to log off, switch off the computer, and contact their help desk.

The virus, identified as a "worm", spreads in the same way as the Melissa virus, which last year infected about one million computers, clogging whole networks in the United States and causing $80 million in damage.

Experts say the Love Bug is much more serious than Melissa as it overwrites audio and picture files, replacing them with its own code. The virus is reactivated if one of these files is subsequently opened.

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See also:

04 May 00 | Sci/Tech
The spread menace
04 May 00 | UK
'Love Bug' bites UK hard
26 Jan 00 | Sci/Tech
Old computer viruses still bite
15 Nov 99 | Sci/Tech
E-mail security bubble bursts
30 Mar 99 | Sci/Tech
Melissa virus goes global
04 May 00 | Americas
Q&A: The Love Bug
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