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Slow Pace of 'Love Bug' Probe Irks U.S.

May 08, 2000|From Washington Post

WASHINGTON — As U.S. officials voiced mounting frustration Sunday with the slow pace of the Philippine investigation into the "Love Bug" computer virus, an international community of virus hunters was unearthing more details about the suspected programmer.

The virus, which afflicted millions of computers worldwide after it was unleashed in Asia on Wednesday and spread overnight to Europe and the United States, was traced Friday to the Philippines by U.S. law enforcement officials, who handed over information to Philippine officials. Clinton administration officials Sunday were upset about the delay in obtaining search warrants for the programmer because such a delay gives a suspect time to dispose of incriminating evidence on a personal computer's hard drive.

Philippine law enforcement officials said Sunday that they were unable to find a judge over the weekend to issue the warrants. The officials said they hoped to obtain the warrants today.

"They literally can't find a judge who will do anything over the weekend," a U.S. official said. "This is just bizarre. That makes us very nervous."

Among the informal network of virus hunters who have been pursuing the case, some of the most recent revelations have come from Jonathan James, 19, a Swedish information security researcher. James, who last year worked with security experts to track down the author of the damaging Melissa virus, said he searched the source code of viruses from the Philippines and found common elements that he traced to a student, "Michael," at Amable Mendoza Aguiluz Computer College in the Philippines.

The suspected student allegedly is affiliated with virus writers who use the name GRAMMERsoft, James said. "This person either coded the virus or he knows who coded the virus," James said.

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