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Steven Vaughan-Nichols story and archive header Rumors
ILOVEYOU Microsoft
By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, Sm@rt Reseller
May 4, 2000 11:54 AM PT
So how many times do people have to be whacked on their heads by a Melissa-like virus to get the point?

So far I've been "ILOVEYOUed" six times today. Unlike many of you, however, other than being annoyed, I don't have the bug, I'm not going to get the bug, and I'm certainly not going to spread it.

Did you get bitten by the Love Bug?

Post your comment
on this story.

Why? Because I'm some kind of computer-demigod who knows all? Hardly! But I do know the basics of avoiding bugs. Here's how you do it.

First, you scan your systems every livelong day for bugs and make sure your mail server has an antivirus shield installed.

What if it's too late for those sound measures? Say you couldn't catch VBS.LoveLetterA the first time around because it sprang out of nowhere and it has attacked faster than any other e-mail virus/worm in history.

According to Symantec's Marian Merritt, group product manager for Norton products, you wouldn't be the only one. "This will be worse than Melissa, because it sends messages to everyone, not just the first 50 people, on your address book. We expect e-mail servers to be shut down across the world."

But, wait. There's more; the program also loads itself up in your MP3 music and JPG graphic files. Worse still, it also deletes MSKernel32.vbs, Win32DLL.vbs, mIRC's script.ini, as well as several minor files. Can you say "wrecked system"? I knew you could.

If the antiviral programs didn't catch it, what should you do? Well, for starters, you can set your mail server or client to zap automatically any e-mail that comes along with "ILOVEYOU" in the subject head or has "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs" in the attachment title.

You also should update your antiviral program within the next 24 hours. The antiviral companies are working like dogs to deliver fixes. Symantec, for example, expects to deliver a LiveUpdate fix to block ILOVEYOU infections by 2 p.m. EDT on May 4. A fix for already infected files should be out by May 5. Some antivirus companies already have fixes out; everyone will have them done by next Monday, at the latest.

Prevention Now

Without all that necessary protection, I still avoided getting a fatal ILOVYOU hug. How? First I delete all messages with attached files unless I'm expecting one. We all know people who want to send us Word or PowerPoint files for no good reason. I consider the potential risk from such messages to be high enough that I just blow them away on sight.

You should be doubly suspicious of any message with a cute name attachment. For some reason, mail bugs writers seem to always give their bugs dubious names. I know one guy who opened an e-mail with ILOVEYOU because it was from a Dow-Jones newsletter and he figured that they couldn't possible send him a virus. Oh please. Big companies, a lone guy with an 80386 and a 2400-baud modem--any and all of them can give you an e-mail worm. (Although, my real question to this guy was why the heck did he think that Dow-Jones would be sending him a love letter?)

But you know the most important reason why I'm not going to be part of the ILOVEYOU problem? I'm not running Microsoft Outlook.

I'm on record as saying that Outlook is a security hole that also happens to be an e-mail client. If this mess doesn't convince of you of that, I don't know what I can do. Just like Melissa, ILOVEYOU only transmits itself to others if you're running Outlook. If it weren't for the fundamental flaws of Outlook having minimal security and its too-close integration with Windows, we wouldn't have a Melissa or an ILOVEYOU at all.

Now, a Microsoft security spokesperson is saying that while Microsoft is working closely with antivirus companies, it doesn't have any plans to issue a patch or security warning. Thanks guys, good of you to pick up the ball like that.

So, because Microsoft isn't going to fix the Outlook vulnerabilities, which leads to worms, you've got one choice. Change your e-mail client today. As an individual, you're opening yourself up to losing use of your Windows computer for a day or two. As an IT professional, if you've deployed Outlook, you're insuring that every so often a Melissa-like worm will give your company's e-mail heart a heart attack.

Frankly, considering how much money and time incidents like these waste, if you were my employee or integrator and you refused to change, I'd fire you. And, Microsoft, if you want to keep Outlook a top mail client, fix it and fix it now.

No, Microsoft is not the villain of this piece. That honor seems to belong to a kid in the Philippines. But so long as you leave the door open to our e-mail houses, others will follow him. And, bad as this is, next time will be worse.

Is Outlook itself to blame for the latest security meltdown? Talk back below and let me know what you think.

Drop Outlook --- How Stupid Can... - Ron
I think that you have it right ... - Sam Cox
Microsoft has been warned of th... - Dodge M
I think it is sad that there ar... - Steve Johnson
Bravo, I agree. We use GroupWi... - Steve Oberholtzer
Just a curiosity question. Wha... - Clyde Newbury
Sure Microsoft could and should... - aaron warner
OK - Someone writes a script/pr... - Rick Shantery
Ok, no Outlook...but... What's... - Aaron Fransen
Sorry Steve, Lotus Notes is vul... - Doug MacGregor
Thank you for a breath of clari... - Robert S Knapp
Hey, it screws up more than Out... - Dan Reynolds
A Microsoft program that is alm... - Zizzy Putnam Balubah
And as soon as Lotus Notes or E... - Mike
I wouldn't touch Outlook. Like ... - Jason Wadsworth
I think that you are a very ign... - Samuel "Sammy" Wakoski
I agree with you absolutely. Ou... - John Wiederholt
if it weren't for MS's "innovat... - hans
You're absolutely right! Micros... - Shane Grissom
I honestly don't know why compa... - Tom Harty
What email client do you use ? ... - Richard Gray
Who are you going to hire after... - Tim Huston
What a sad statement. I cannot... - Darin Rousseau
Microsoft has been warned of th... - Dodge M
This is why I use a Mac. And Ne... - Paul Findsen
Microsoft/Antitrust/Virus Do... - Tom Moberg
MS Outlook is not to blame. Th... - Deathe Davis
I hate MS Outlook, except for u... - Joe Murphy
If not Outlook then what?? As ... - Joann McIntyre
That is total garbage. Just be... - Chris Morse
This is "Microsoft Innovation" ... - John Rudd
We use mostly Groupwise, yea it... - Ript Torn
I hardly want to be quoted as d... - Justin Yates
Well, we have GroupWise & the v... - Bill
It's not outlook at all that's ... - interested observer
Microsoft Outlook is the target... - A Crawford
From looking at the source code... - Patrick Heimann
Not using Outlook won't save yo... - Dan McCoy
This virus has nothing to do wi... - John
Damm, what such good idea ! ... - Jorge Arthur
I don't think you're going far ... - Ron Zucker
Given the VBS extension, it loo... - Brandon Watkins
The problem is not outlook itse... - Paulo Domingos
Sure, blame the big dog... I... - J. W.
So what options does the home u... - Dave
Without Microsoft, the audience... - Richard A. Mellon
Are you in touch with the rest ... - Matt Miller
I think you've missed the point... - Peter Krug
I work in IT as a programmer. ... - Mathew
Of course Microsoft isn't going... - C. E. Higginbotham
Steve, don't quit your day job!... - Tony Diablo
re: "It's not Outlook's Fault" ... - John Rudd
Drop Outlook? I have a better i... - Darrell Deane
Now people won't have to wonder... - Debi
EUDORA ROCKS Don't let them Ou... - Phish Fry
This article was obviously writ... - Mark Nelson
MSKernel32.vbs, Win32DLL.vbs, m... - BA
Ah, Karen... Of course Eudor... - Peter
For the uninformed, this is not... - Jeffrey
I bet you cover your furniture ... - Bruce Dworkin
First of all this will only aff... - Net Admin
I CHALLENGE YOU ! ! ! Tell e... - MSFT Employee
Microsoft, is responsible. Ulti... - Bob Tour
How about promoting Browser-bas... - Chong L.
Re: "Outlooks Popularity is its... - John Rudd
Intelligent suggestion. And the... - Mick Pegg
I cannot understand people that... - Pawel
Stop using OL? Isn't that like ... - Roy harrell
Eudora 4.3 users should pull do... - D. Kell
The Microsoft appologists sound... - Gregory Pearson
I agree. That's why I use Pega... - J Zachary
Users are the idiots who click ... - David Leveille
Everyone's always warning peopl... - Dan Sexauer
Please note that although the M... - JB
Deeply Misguided Analysis: Up ... - Paul Clark
And the scapegoating begins. Yo... - Wes Royer
Blaming Outlook for ILOVEYOU is... - John Dunphy
Yeah lets blame Microsoft one m... - Jason Point
My team just went through the s... - Larry LaBas
umm... first thing I want to s... - Tae Kim
It's not just Outlook that is t... - buzzcutbuddha
If Napster, which can be used l... - Charles
Stop using OL? Isn't that like ... - Roy harrell
Dropping Outlook is really dras... - Jon
I seriously doubt MS could prev... - Tom Kirkham
Now that the DOJ has forced the... - Pete Woods
Shane, Format C:\ is a M$ comma... - Michael
Correct me if I'm mistaken, but... - Leaf Blower
Funny that your annoyed by the ... - Pierre Alexandre
This shows how vulnerable out n... - Tristan Galicia
Bravo re:"Its not Outlook's fau... - Bob Tour
Fire workers that refuse to exp... - tim miller
There outa be a law! I agree... - Phillip Carrisalez
Send bill to Microsoft. If they... - Jim Shannon
I've been using Outlook Express... - Steve Willows
Solution! Linux! I got the emai... - Robert Vasquez
I personally think you're full ... - M Klym
Hey "Sammy" Wakoski: Speaking ... - interseted observer
Funny article, but realisticall... - Sean
I guess we should also give up ... - Patrick Henry
> Worse still, it also deletes ... - Jakub Soucek
Having used Outlook on both pl... - James Winstanley
Let's go back in technology 6 y... - Unfrozen Caveman Programmer
This editor is just an idiot. I... - Bobby McGee
I seriously doubt MS could prev... - Tom Kirkham
What, Pray Tell, can I use for ... - Ceejy
This morning I recieved an emai... - Mike Weltz
I bet Novell and Lotus were bar... - Cassidy Anderson
Vaughan-Nichols leaps on the "D... - whoever
What the heck is "Outlook". I'... - Dave Smith
I think this it is really crazy... - Reema Patel
I bet Novell and Lotus were bar... - Cassidy Anderson
DISCUSSI... - Tammy Cavadias - ZDNet News
The only reason that anyone wou... - Warren Walter
"...if you were my employee or ... - Scott F.
The only reason that anyone wou... - Warren Walter
Why is Outlook such a problem? ... - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Okay, so we all know that any e... - Rob
Solution! Linux! I got the emai... - Robert Vasquez
The only reason that anyone wou... - Warren Walter
Vaugn is another brainless wond... - Patrick Henry
It's all Microsoft's fault!?! H... - Goran Molinar
Open mouth, insert foot or the ... - Andrew Keeler
This has to be one of the stupi... - R. Wilsker
I bet Novell and Lotus were bar... - Cassidy Anderson
I think this it is really crazy... - Reema Patel
Operator Error - Sort of... ... - Mike Gamerland
So if Microsoft is to blame, an... - B. Yaniz
I have yet to receive a single ... - Brad BARCLAY
I set my Outlook to assign all ... - Eusebio C Rufian-Zilbermann
I think this it is really crazy... - Reema Patel
As I read the comments on th... - Leonard Weldon
I think this it is really crazy... - Reema Patel
My biggest problem with Outlook... - Bob Smith
What pisses me off is this pass... - Pedro D. Angel
I've never been attacked by eve... - D�ch
Micro$oft isn't the villain but... - Steve
If Microsoft fixed this type of... - John Ludwig
First off, there are so many te... - Mark Tucker
My team just went through the s... - Larry LaBas


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Copyright © 2000 ZD Inc. All rights reserved. ZDNet and the ZDNet logo are trademarks of ZD Inc. Editorial items appearing in ZDNet that were originally published in the US edition of Sm@rt Reseller are the copyright property of Ziff Davis Media Inc. or its suppliers. Copyright © 2000 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Sm@rt Reseller is a trademark of Ziff Davis Media Inc.