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New Virus More Harmful to PCs Than 'Love Bug'

May 19, 2000|Associated Press

A variant of the "Love Bug" computer virus has started spreading, virus experts said Thursday, and although it may not spread as fast as the original, it is much more destructive when it infects a computer.

Computers at several large companies were infected late Thursday, said Dave Perry, spokesman at anti-virus software company Trend Micro Inc. At one company, all 5,000 computers were infected, he said.

Like the "Love Bug" scourge that spread to millions of computers two weeks ago, the new virus arrives in an attachment to an e-mail. However, it isn't given away by an "ILOVEYOU" subject line. Instead, the subject line changes every time a computer is infected.

"Each time the virus spreads, it mutates itself to evade detection," Symantec Corp., another anti-virus software maker, said in a statement.

The subject line of an infected e-mail starts with "FW: " and includes the name of a randomly chosen attachment from a previous e-mail on an infected computer. The e-mail will have an attachment with the same name, but ending in ".vbs."

Clicking on the attachment will activate the virus. Like "Love Bug," it will send itself to everybody in the user's address book. It will then destroy most of the files on the hard drive, rendering the computer useless until the operating system is reinstalled.

As with the "Love Bug," only recipients running Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook e-mail program for Windows are vulnerable and there's no danger if the attachment is not opened, virus experts said.

The larger size of this virus' attachments are more likely to crash e-mail servers, experts said. The "Love Bug" had a small attachment, but crashed e-mail servers all over the world when it sent millions of copies of itself through the systems at once.

Perry said he hoped that increased awareness among e-mail users would hold down the spread of the new virus.

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