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(also Love Bug or Love Letter)

ILOVEYOU definition

ILOVEYOU (also known as the Love Bug or Love Letter) is one of the most infamous computer worms in the history of malware. It emerged in May 2000 and quickly spread across the globe, causing significant damage.

ILOVEYOU was a self-replicating computer worm that primarily spread via email. It tricked users into opening an email attachment that appeared to be a love letter or another harmless file. However, the attachment was malicious and would infect the victim’s computer.

The spread of the virus was stopped by temporarily shutting down mail systems and other collaborative efforts by the CIA, ISPs, and cybersecurity experts. The incident encouraged organizations and businesses to improve their cybersecurity measures.

See also: antivirus, antivirus scanner, anti-malware

How ILOVEYOU infected devices

  • ILOVEYOU was distributed primarily through an email attachment. The email subject was “ILOVEYOU“ or something similar, attracting the recipient's attention and curiosity.
  • The email contained a message encouraging the recipient to open the attached file, often claiming it was a love letter. The attachment had an extension that made it appear like a text file, such as “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs.“
  • If the user opened the attachment, the malicious code embedded within the file was executed.
  • The virus was a worm that, once executed, began to self-replicate. It accessed the user's address book and sent a copy of itself to all the contacts in the address book. This replication occurred without the user's knowledge or consent, making the virus spread quickly.
  • In addition to replicating itself, the virus searched for specific file types on the infected device (e.g., images, audio, or documents). The worm overwrote these files, rendering them inaccessible and irreversibly damaged.
  • The ILOVEYOU virus also modified the Windows Registry, changed system settings, and attempted to download and run other malicious files.

Measures that stopped ILOVEYOU

  • Antivirus companies developed and released updates to their software to detect and remove ILOVEYOU.
  • Global cybersecurity organizations, governments, and law enforcement agencies collaborated to stop the spread of the virus.
  • Authorities launched legal action to find and arrest the cybercriminals responsible for the malware.
  • ISPs and organizations implemented email filters and blocking mechanisms to prevent further spread.