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Morning News

Copycat Attacks Causing Chaos in Wake of 'Love Bug' Virus

Aired May 5, 2000 - 9:01 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Computer experts still recovering from a bout with the "ILOVEYOU" virus now must deal with copycat attacks. Computer systems around the world were infected by the e-mail virus proclaiming "ILOVEYOU" in the subject line. One new version has "joke" in that subject line and an attachment titled "very funny," but the chaos being caused is no laughing matter.

Our science correspondent Ann Kellan now with the latest here.

And this thing really has swept folks quickly.

ANN KELLAN, CNN SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT: It's not ending either. Computer security experts are scrambling to deal with the "Love Bug" and are expecting at least a dozen copycat viruses to emerge in the next few days, but there could be thousands. This latest one comes as a joke in your e-mail. This is what it could look like: You get an e-mail with the subject line that looks like a joke has been forwarded to you. It comes with an attachment reading "veryfunny.vbs." Do not open that attachment or a lot of your precious files could be destroyed. That's what's happening with the "Love Bug" that infected computers worldwide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The virus nicknamed the "Love Bug" infected millions of computers worldwide, corrupting files, overloading e-mail systems from the British Parliament to trading houses in New York. It was this intriguing subject line, "ILOVEYOU," that drew people to take a peek, that triggered the virus on each computer.

So what should you look for to protect yourself from the virus?

(on camera): The messages will probably come from someone you know, which will entice you to open it, but don't. The best thing to do is delete it. But if you did open it, this is where the problem comes in: this attachment. It says "love letter for you." If you open this, this will unleash a virus in your address book and send that virus to everybody on your list.

(voice-over): In Britain, the House of Commons computer system was gridlocked and shut down, along with banks, brokerage houses and media outlets across Europe and Asia. But according to analysts, it was the U.S. that was hardest hit. More than half of all Fortune 100 companies were affected. The U.S. Army and Navy shut down their e- mail systems temporarily, as did the U.S. State Department.

Companies like wireless telecom Vodafone AirTouch also halted e- mail after getting bit by the "Love Bug." Even CNN's parent company, Time Warner, was hit.

What makes the Love Bug more damaging than last year's "Melissa" virus, this one runs rampant, making copies of itself to countless addresses, while "Melissa" was limited to just 50. This virus is also more persistent. It stays in the registry and starts running each time a computer is restarted, copying over and over again. It also attempts to steal computer passwords.

So if you get one of the virus "ILOVEYOU" e-mails, what should you do? It's very simple: Don't open the attachment. Just delete the entire message immediately from your e-mail, and then delete it again from your "deleted items" file.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KELLAN: Now, the FBI has launch an investigation to track down the origin of this virus. A lot of companies have developed fixes for the love bug. One of them is available at www.drsolomon.com, and that will stop "Love Bug" e-mails from getting onto your computer.

HEMMER: Dr. Solomon?

KELLAN: Dr. Solomon -- Network Associates.

HEMMER: We've talked about fixing the "Love Bug" virus. Is there any way to fix the copycat viruses out there now?

KELLAN: Not yet. And, actually, when you do that fix, it's preventing that e-mail from getting into your computer, but it's not going to stop the "Love Bug" once it's in there from infecting. So, again, I -- you know, I wouldn't open attachments. I'd be really careful right now to open any attachments unless you've made -- prearranged with someone, that they're saying, I'm going to send you this attachment. I'd be really careful before doing that.

HEMMER: Stay away from it or delete it.

KELLAN: Stay away from those and then delete it altogether.

HEMMER: OK, good deal. Ann Kellan, thank you.

KELLAN: Sure.

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