On the trail of the ILOVEYOU author, Part II

Hardly any women participate in virus creation

That's perhaps the biggest twist in the investigation. Historically, women have not been part of the virus exchange, or VX, scene. In her research on profiling virus writers, IBM researcher Sarah Gordon, found hardly any women participating in the virus creation or distribution.

"In conversations with dozens of individuals involved in the virus writing culture, we have found only two instances of 'direct' female involvement," she wrote in a 1994 paper that profiled the 'generic' virus writer.

"One was the girlfriend of a virus writer, and one was a woman who was involved with the virus writing group NuKE. However, it is uncertain as to whether or not she ever produced any viruses.

An Australian?

A computer expert in Sweden bet that an 18-year-old German exchange student in Australia was responsible for the virus. But the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said Sunday they had been given no firm evidence to back up the allegation. Fredrik Bjorck, a Stockholm University researcher in data systems, said Saturday that the originator went under the name of "Michael" and had left traces on Internet user groups. The Swedish news agency TT said Bjorck had helped the FBI trace the destructive Melissa computer virus last year.

All in all, the data trail currently being followed by the police could be cleverly crafted to throw off investigators. Yet, that possibility has become more remote as the weight of the evidence builds.

Moreover, despite causing an epidemic and clogging email servers worldwide, the virus writer who created the ILOVEYOU virus is no Brainiac.

It's unlikely that the virus creator had any idea how widespread his worm would infect. That makes it more than likely that the information gleaned from a variety of files makes sense.

The hunt goes on?

Still, the Philippines government is under a great deal of pressure to have the situation resolved.

Because of ILOVEYOU, the nation of islands found itself the focus of world attention at a time when armed militants roam the countryside and it would rather be out of the spotlight. Its current difficulty results from several hostage situations and the manoeuverings of a revolutionary organisation known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

"If they can keep the focus on the virus and off the hostages, the better it is for their national esteem," said David Kennedy, director of research services for security service provider ICSA.net. "Any arrest they can make, even if it is the wrong guy, will help them." That puts authorities at the National Bureau of Investigations in the hot seat.

What do you think? Tell the Mailroom. And read what others have said.

Take me back to Part I

Go to ZDNet's ILOVEYOU Special Report

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