Feeds

Broken-hearted email servers mark LoveBug anniversary

It was 10 years ago today...

High performance access to file storage

Tuesday marks the tenth anniversary of the infamous LoveBug worm, the prolific malware strain that proved opening "flirty" emails from acquaintances seriously endangers internet hygiene.

MessageLabs security team was the first to stop and name LoveBug, a mass-mailing worm later reckoned to have infected 45 million computer users worldwide. As a result of the malware outbreak the percentage of viruses in email surged overnight from just one in every 1000 emails to one in 28 on 4 May 2000. Email servers worldwide ground to a halt under the onslaught.

Infected messages appeared as messages from contacts of an intended mark with the subject line "ILoveYou", and an infected attachment called "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs". Crucially, a security shortcoming of the time means the final .vbs extenuation was hidden by default from Windows users, who were therefore easily duped into thinking the email contained only an innocuous txt file attachment.

Users tempted to open these infected message attachments were exposed to a Windows-based malware payload that harvested email addresses from compromised machines and sent out more infected messages, continuing the spread of the worm. The worm used infection routines written in VBScripts, helping to popularise a technique that was then comparatively unusual.

Evidence from the malware pointed the finger of blame for the creation of the worm towards Filipino student Onel de Guzman, who was arrested and quizzed by police but escaped prosecution because of a lack of relevant cybercrime laws in the Philippine at the time. Computer hacking laws were rushed through Parliament in the Philippines and introduced weeks after the outbreak in July 2000, but weren't backdated, allowing de Guzman to avoid prosecution.

The LoveBug, and the less successful but nonetheless virulent Melissa worm that preceded it, marked the heyday of mass-mailing worms that used social engineering trickery to spread. Such attacks are now very rare with targeted Trojan attacks and botnet clients now the mainstay of the threat environment. In some way the LoveBug recalls an earlier, more innocent, age before cybercrooks and state-sponsored parties took over the scene.

To mark the anniversary MessageLabs, now Symantec hosted services, commissioned an artist Alex Dragulescu to create an image of the malware. The resulting image - which looks a bit like a pollen seed - can be found here. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
Bad PUPPY: Undead Windows XP deposits fresh scamware on lawn
Installing random interwebs shiz will bork your zombie box
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.