Feeds

Broken-hearted email servers mark LoveBug anniversary

It was 10 years ago today...

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.