Anti-virus companies ‘ambulance chasing' over Love variants

Although "NewLove" hasn't wreaked the havoc its predecessors did, the new Visual Basic Script worm is still potent, as it attempts to catch its victims off-guard by changing the subject field of the e-mail it travels in.

Also, it draws the name of the attached worm file at random by picking up a file name from a user's list of recently used files. If launched, the worm immediately e-mails itself through a Microsoft Outlook address book and deletes all accessible files on the local hard drive and any attached network. Yet the damage control initiated by the previous week's events appears to have had an effect worldwide on awareness of how to deal with the worm. "It looks like most people woke up early to this and warned just about everybody they knew," said IDC analyst Chris Christansen on the weekend.

Microsoft are due to make available a "patch" for the .VBS worm, a measure which should restrict the NewLove worm from spreading. A researcher with the Gartner Group, Chris Le Tocq, said that the spate of worm attacks proved how dependent the world is on a homogenous platform, making it vulnerable to these "malicious code bombardments". "I think that we're a technology society that's attempting to find its balance between programmability and security, said Le Tocq. It has been advised that Windows users disable their operating system's scripting host, as a measure against the worm or any variants until the .VBS patch is released, a measure Le Tocq agrees with. "Right now, when Joe teenager can kill your systems at a whim, I'd say on a business functionality balance, do it."

But the anti-virus industry itself has come under criticism, with suggestions raised that it is using hype, fear and sensationalism to market itself alongside warning the public. Quoted in WIRED, Dan Schrader, chief security analyst at Trend Micro said "Anti-virus companies have always been seen as ambulance chasers, and sometimes, it's true. Because this is an industry that has been built on hype and alerts and pretensions of being good citizens, the industry doesn't have a lot of credibility."

An Australian member of the group Halcon last week distributed a virus script to select media to demonstrate the ease with which the virus can be constructed using Microsoft's Visual Basic Script. "Valiant", the script's author, expressed some suspicion via an interview granted to WIRED that his script may have been used to create the latest variant of the worm, though attempts to contact Valiant to confirm his comments were unsuccessful today.

Virus Updates

F-Secure have a page with updates and some screenshots for users wanting to know what the virus looks like when contained in an email message. Sophos, Symantec and McAfee all have up to date virus information pages. For alternative opinions on events, visit the Computer Virus Myths page.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Miguel D'Souza

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?