Experts warn that a variant of the “Love Bug” computer virus has appeared. And while it may not spread as fast as the original, it is much more destructive when it infects a computer.
The new virus arrives in an attachment to an e-mail. However, it isn’t given away by an “ILOVEYOU” subject line. Instead, the subject line changes to a random word or phrase every time a computer is infected.
“Each time the virus spreads, it mutates itself to evade detection,” the anti-virus software maker Symantec said in a statement.
The subject line of an infected e-mail starts with “FW:” and includes the name of a randomly chosen attachment from a previous e-mail on an infected computer. The e-mail will have an attachment with the same name, but ending in “.vbs.”
Clicking on the attachment will activate the virus. Like Love Bug, it will send itself to everybody in the user’s address book. It will then destroy most of the files on the hard drive, rendering the computer useless until the operating system is reinstalled.
As with the Love Bug, only recipients running Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail program for Windows are vulnerable and there’s no danger if the attachment is not opened, virus experts said.
The larger size of this virus’s attachments are more likely to crash e-mail servers, experts said. The Love Bug had a small attachment, but crashed e-mail servers all over the world when it sent millions of copies of itself through the systems at once.
The first Love Bug virus was traced to the Philippines.