EU: Love Bug Underscores Security Needs

BRUSSELS (05/05/2000) - As European industry sits down to review the damage brought by the "I Love You" software worm, the European Commission today said that international cooperation prevented the havoc from being even worse than it was.

Though the worm was "extremely serious," it did not have a substantial effect on the European Commission because it had immediately recognized the virus as an attack, warned all staff and took the necessary precautions, according to a statement by Erkki Liikanen, European Information Society Commissioner.

Further damage, he explained, was averted due to international cooperation and the exchange of information between professionals and users, but he urged users to keep their guard up due to the distribution of modified versions of the virus.

For the Commissioner, the virus attack in fact provided the perfect opportunity to underline the key role that security plays in ensuring and promoting consumer and investor confidence in electronic commerce.

"The Love Bug is a warning to us all that security must be given top priority if consumer and user confidence is to be maintained as we move into the information age. The European Commission is determined to give security the urgency it deserves, both in its own computer systems and in the policies it promotes," Liikanen said. He then proceeded to list the efforts the EU is taking to promote security online, referring in the first place to an upcoming Commission Communication on Cybercrime aimed at improving cooperation among national law enforcement authorities. The Commission will also participate in a "High-Tech Crime Convention" to be held in Paris among leading industrial countries from May 15-17.

Meanwhile, some European experts placed the blame for the ease of the virus's global penetration in part on reliance on U.S. antivirus vendors.

In Europe, companies who relied on U.S.-based antivirus firms were at a disadvantage, one company IT expert who asked to remain unidentified said.

Although Europe woke up with the virus, it was at least six hours before their antivirus service providers woke up in the U.S., he pointed out.

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