'Love Bug' comes in 13 variants

The latest of 13 known variants says: 'I can't believe I have just received this hate email, take a look.'
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor

Love turned to hate today when workers returned to work to find yet another mutation of the costly 'love bug' biting their computers. There are now 13 variants of the worm, dubbed the love bug, including a new hate email, which urges recipients to take a peek at the hate mail the fictional person has received. The variant says: "I can't believe I have just received this hate email, take a look."

The other worm unearthed today was an email from Arab Airlines asking respondents to check an air ticket bill. The new variants came as Philippines authorities pondered over how they would arrest the woman suspected of creating the virus, with police saying the country lacked the laws to deal with computer crime.

"We have no laws on this," Philipines National Bureau of Investigation chief Federico Opinion said. "We have to research."

The bureau was trying to persuade a judge to issue a warrant to search the house of the suspect, who is believed to be a woman living in a Manila suburb.

"It's not that easy ... you have to convince the judge. We are collating evidence," Opinion said.

Earlier claims that an 18 year-old German exchange student living in Australia had created the virus have been dismissed by Australian Federal Police.

The 'Love Bug', the most virulent computer virus ever created, penetrated millions of computers last week, including those of the Pentagon, the CIA and the British parliament.

Anti-virus computer company Symantec said about 1.5m Australians were among the estimated 45m computer users affected by the virus.

Symantec spokeswoman Melissa Dempsey said Australians returned to work today cautious about their email.

"We know that about 2,500 companies closed down their servers over the weekend," Ms Dempsey said. She said the virus had hit Australian businesses, even though most had not been infected by the bug, because of the production time lost.

However, the anti-virus programs used to fight the love bug had been successful defending against the new worms, she said.

After another day of computer havoc, Australian anti-virus experts are hoping the chaos will taper off tomorrow.

Network Associates technical support manager Asia Pacific Ric Byrnes said the company had received about 3,000 calls for help on Friday, and around 2000 customer calls today.

"There are still several strains today, we hope it will taper off tomorrow," Mr Byrnes said.

"It has been easing off, compared to Friday, hopefuly things will calm down a bit tomorrow. But I can't say that confidently."

It seems that most of the world is still reeling from the shock of the cutely and seductively named ILOVEYOU virus. Go with Peter Coffee to AnchorDesk UK and read the news comment to find out how easy it was and the perils that lie ahead.

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