Experts: Love Bug Variant Poses Little Threat

FRAMINGHAM (08/18/2000) - Computer security experts expect to downgrade from medium to low the threat posed by a variant of the ILOVEYOU e-mail virus known as "VBS/LoveLetter.bd."

Detected earlier this week, the variant arrives as an e-mail and when opened, secretly launches code that steals bank account identification numbers and forwards them to others electronically.

So far, customers of United Bank of Switzerland appear to be the virus' only victims. In the U.S., the National Infrastructure Protection Center reported two cases of the virus.

Meanwhile, officials at Network Associates Inc., a Santa Clara, California-based virus software vendor, said they have received reports of fewer than 20 cases worldwide.

"We've seen virtually no more activity since Tuesday night when we had about 15 reports from throughout Europe and mainly from Germany," said Sal Viveros, a director with the company's Antivirus Emergency Response Team.

"Unless you're a customer of the Swiss bank, you're not really going to be affected because (the virus) goes into their special online banking program and steals PINs (personal identification numbers) from that," he said.

"Right now, we're still keeping it on medium alert, but we'll probably be taking it down to low alert over the weekend," Viveros said.

Still, Viveros warned that users still shouldn't let their guards down.

"The unfortunate part of this is that it has now given people a roadmap," he said. "Once virus writers or hackers create something a little different, we see all sorts of copycats. We'll be watching very closely in the next month for attacks on online banking programs."

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