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Michael Buen
"I don't want to incriminate anybody"
 real 28k

Michael Buen
"Maybe I can pass on this"
 real 28k

Monday, 3 July, 2000, 21:58 GMT 22:58 UK
Love Bug suspect speaks
Michael Buen
Michael Buen: "Not that bad to create viruses"
Mystery still surrounds the release of the Love Bug computer virus that caused havoc among computer systems worldwide.

But the BBC's Panorama programme has obtained an exclusive interview with one of the Filipino students suspected of writing the virus.

Onel de Guzman
Onel de Guzman said he might have released the bug by mistake
The Love Bug was released on 4 May, spreading by e-mail to affect hundreds of thousands of businesses and personal computers across the world. The US Government was among those hit.

Investigators in the Philippines, where the Love Bug originated, said a floppy disk seized from the apartment of computer student Onel de Guzman contained a virus of a similar type.

It was apparently written by a friend of the student, 23-year-old Michael Buen, and released by mistake by Onel de Guzman. The pair trained at the AMA Computer College in Manila.

Michael Buen, who has refused until now to speak about the Love Bug, told Panorama's Jane Corbin that he did not write it.

But his story does not end there.

E-mail threat

In February, a virus was sent to clients of Sophos, a security firm based in Oxfordshire, England. It came in the form of a CV in the name of Michael Buen and it came from the Philippines.

Michael Buen
Michael Buen was interviewed with his lawyer present

The virus was designed to reproduce itself and infect Word documents. It would spread by e-mail - if someone received an infected document and opened it, their files would become infected.

The CV tricked people into thinking the sender was looking for a job - but it contained a threat:

"Warning! If I don't get a stable job by the end of the month, I will release a third virus that will remove all folders in the primary hard disc," it said.

In the company of his lawyer, Michael Buen declined to give details.

He denied he was capable of writing the Love Bug virus.


But Graham Cluley, director of Communications for Sophos, said the CV virus had some similarities with the Love Bug.

"The significance is that it appears Michael Buen definitely was involved in writing computer viruses," he said.

"The amount of information in here about him strongly suggests that he has written viruses before.

"If it wasn't him who wrote Love Bug, then it appears that it was one of his mates."

Whoever wrote the virus, it seems, has become a role model for some Filipino students.

The Love Bug may have come from the capital of a developing nation, but it was very sophisticated.

Since then, the college where Michael Buen and Onel de Guzman trained has been inundated with students enroling for computer courses.

"It shows only we Filipinos can create such a virus," one student told Panorama.

And Michael Buen said the virus had put the Philippines on the map.

"Maybe they look up to me, maybe they look up to us and so they might just think that we are great," he said. "It is clearly not that bad to create viruses."

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See also:

15 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Love Bug probe widened
08 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Hunting e-criminals
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
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