SAN FRANCISCO (05/04/2000) - Who can resist opening an e-mail message with a subject line that reads, "ILOVE YOU"? Apparently, not too many people. An e-mail virus (technically a worm) contained in that message suddenly appeared on Thursday and is quickly spreading throughout the world.
Industry sources report that the virus first appeared in Hong Kong late Thursday afternoon (Asian time)--first affecting banks and public relations firms--and quickly spread into Europe. At press time, the virus was also spreading into the United States.
The worm is officially named VBS.Loveletter.A.
The text is the message reads, "kindly check the attached LOVELETTER coming from me," with a file attachment of 10307 bytes that's titled, "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs." The .vbs extension indicates a Visual Basic Script.
If you open the attachment, the script inserts a number of files into Windows system directories. The virus then sends a copy of itself to all addresses in a Microsoft Corp. Outlook or Outlook Express directory.
Although the worm doesn't cause any other damage to your machine, it can quickly bog down mail servers with a blizzard of messages. And, of course, the virus needs to be removed from your PC.
Major antivirus software makers are hard at work on updating their virus signature files to detect and remove the virus, and solutions are already appearing on the companies' Web sites.
If your antivirus software has an automatic update feature, you should use it as soon as possible to download the solution.
Meanwhile, the best advice is to immediately delete any message that contains the "ILOVE YOU" subject line. (Note the lack of a space between the I and the L.) In any case, do not open the attachment, which is the only way the virus can be spread.
A spokesperson for the ICSA, a security organization that certifies antivirus software, also suggests that network administrators set filters on e-mail servers to reject all messages with "LOVE" in the subject.