Love Bug looms over Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day could be less than romantic when virus strikes

An antivirus vendor warns that the Love Bug, which caused so much disaster for Internet users in May last year, could cause more heartbreak by coming back to life again this Valentine's Day.

A survey from antivirus vendor MessageLabs indicates that more than a third of business email users across the UK would still open such an email on 14 February, despite the notoriety attained by the email worm, which is estimated to have wreaked £4.8bn worth of damage worldwide.

MessageLab's research indicates that Internet users remain vulnerable to computer viruses and worms designed to appeal to their sense of curiousity. It found that 54 percent would open an email entitled "Great Joke", 50 percent "Look at this", 46 percent "Re. Message", 40 percent "No title" and 39 percent "Special offer".

"We've seen the numbers of viruses detected in emails rise sharply over the last year," said Mark Sunner, chief technology officer at MessageLabs in a release. "The report goes to prove that on a day such as St Valentine's [Day] email users are vulnerable to unusual email, which creates an opportunity for virus writers."

"Eleven percent of the people surveyed had received the 'Love Bug' last year -- that on its own is an astonishing number from the sample. But despite all the press attention over the last year it would appear that three times that amount would open it this year," commented Alistair Kelman, an Internet barrister at the London School of Economics (LSE). "The results are very worrying at a time when the threat of computer viruses is rising."

Take me to the Virus Workshop

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Click on the TalkBack button and go to the Security forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read what others have said.