Like the deadly Melissa virus that struck companies last summer, the Love Bug spreads by email that multiply once opened by a recipient, sending new messages to everyone in the user’s address book, brining down entire mail servers in the process.
In a scathing critique, research company Gartner said the ILOVEYOU, LoveLetter or Love Bug virus shows Microsoft’s attitude to security remains “too permissive”.
The worm is not only a warning bell to IT professionals, but a wake-up call to Microsoft. The company needs to upgrade the security of its products – something Gartner said it asked the company to do over three years ago.
In a February 1997 research note Michael Zboray, chief technology officer and chief information security officer at Gartner Group, said: “Until Microsoft implements containment areas with a restrictive default security policy, unrestricted use of its email product should be prevented.”
A Microsoft spokesperson said the company is committed to improving the security of its products, and caries out continuous reviews of features within them with the aim of upgrading security.
“Microsoft follows standard best practice. We are constantly reviewing and upgrading security features,” she said.
She added that the ultimate responsibility for security lies with users, and that Microsoft was not responsible if “technology terrorists” abuse features in its products.
According to reports late today, a 23-year-old from the Pandacan area of Manila has been associated with two email addresses through ISP Super Net from which the virus originated- and is now prime suspect as the author of the ‘ILOVEYOU’ virus.
Meanwhile, fresh versions of the Love Bug worm are threatening to wreak fresh havoc on computers across the world.
Kevin Street, technology director at Symantec, said so far the anti-virus vendor had found six copycat versions of the virus, any of which could potentially breech defences that have been put in place to guard against the original worm.
Anti-virus vendor GFI said that it expects several variants of the virus to appear over the next few weeks, using not only VB (Visual Basic) script but also Windows Scripting host, Java scripts and HTML scripts. The company warns that the only way to avoid being infected by them is to block these scripts at email server level.
“We are expecting a host of variants over the next few weeks. Anyone with basic knowledge of visual basic scripting can create such a virus, so the script kiddies are sure to be at it immediately,” said Nick Galea, chief executive of GFI.
“Variants could infect even those email users who are currently protected against the Love Letter virus,” he added.