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Fast-Spreading Love Bug Virus Wreaks Havoc Around World

By Charles Piller and Greg Miller
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- One of the most disruptive computer viruses in history, dubbed “I LOVE YOU,” has been loving their computer networks to death. The malicious pest -- reportedly launched from the Philippines -- raced across the Internet on Wednesday and Thursday and infected computers in about two dozen countries.

Unlike last year’s Melissa virus that penetrated millions of computers and caused some $300 million in damage, the Love Bug virus is spreading faster and can destroy a wide variety of computer files.

ILoveYou kills or hides 8 different kinds of files, including pictures, graphics and music files, such as the popular MP3 format. It replaces those files with similarly named imposters that, when launched with a click, begin the virus propagation anew.

Thousands of companies were apparently effected, including AT&T, Microsoft, Time Warner, Southern California Edison, Merrill Lynch and Ford Motor Co. Many companies had to shut down their e-mail systems and government offices were also hit, including the British House of Commons, the Pentagon, CIA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Law enforcement sources said they’re following some early leads, but it’s not clear if they are significant. Officials at the Department of Justice said the FBI had launched a sweeping investigation of the attack, even as some were coping with the virus themselves.

Early indications that the virus originated in Asia would not affect the direction of the investigation, said Chris Painer, deputy chief of the computer crimes section of the Department of Justice.

Millions of computers have probably already have been infected by the Love Bug, said David Perry, an executive with Trend Micro in Cupertino, an anti-virus company that distributes software that disinfects PCs and networks.

The current outbreak is transmitted primarily through Microsoft’s Outlook, an e-mail and scheduling program widely used in businesses.