Last week marked the ten-year anniversary of one the most fiendishly successful computer viruses of all time, whose occurrence signaled the rise of spam email. The virus’s incredible spread was based more on psychological than technical skill: the subject line ILOVEYOU and attachment name LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU were what got people. I.e. we found out that people on the internet are lonely. BBC News looks back:
All around the world, security researchers were waking up to the scale of the problem confronting them.
It all started in the Philippines many hours earlier when 24-year-old Onel De Guzman released a virus that he had proposed creating as part of his undergraduate thesis.
Few could resist opening the attachment which kicked off the attack code that then plundered their e-mail address list and sent itself to every name it found. In 2000, many people did not have any security software and even those that did only updated the signatures of known viruses once a month.
With defences so scant, pretty much everyone that opened up the attachment was infected. In all about 45 million Windows PCs were thought to have been hit on 4-5 May.
Despite being traced via an alias he left in the virus, Mr De Guzman was never charged with a crime. At the time he released the malware, the Philippines had no laws criminalising malicious use of computers.
Big companies were hit the hardest. The virus kicked off a tsunami of e-mail within and between companies so their mail servers crashed under the load.
The anti-virus companies released a fix around 1000GMT but few could get hold of it because so many people were trying to download it at the same time.
“It was very difficult to clean up,” said Mr Fletcher. “It took a lot more effort to clean up and people were not very used to that then, no-one was really used to doing back-ups.”
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