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CNN Today

'NEWLOVE.vbs' Virus Appears

Aired May 19, 2000 - 1:03 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And it's about federal investigators on the trail now of a cyberculprit behind another e-mail computer virus. This one is called "NEWLOVE.vbs," and it's similar to the "Love Bug" virus that we told you about a week ago, but computer experts say this one is more difficult to detect and track. The government says the virus appears to have started in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET RENO, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: This new worm is "NEWLOVE.vbs" which was identified yesterday. Like the earlier versions this worm is transmitted via e-mail, but unlike the others, this new version can change the subject line and the program code every time it is retransmitted. This makes the virus more difficult for users and antivirus programs to detect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATERS: CNN's Rick Lockridge joins us now from the CNN Interactive, our news room there, with more on this "NEWLOVE" virus -- Rick.

RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Lou, if the "Love Bug" of a week ago was like a bad flu epidemic, then this new virus or worm had the potential to be small pox or the plague. However, this virus apparently couldn't adapt or survive very well in the wild and we can all be thankful for that.

But let's take a look at what it would look like if it were in your Outlook mailbox. I've sent myself one here, it's a simulation, this isn't the real thing. But we'll take a look, we'll pop open.

First of all, you see, we've got the attachment icon there. That's your first clue, that little paper clip in Outlook. So open that up and the e-mail has a subject line that includes the little "fw" as in forward. That's your second clue. If you have that, you can go on to the third clue which is the attachment itself. Down here I've got an attachment called "script.vbs." Now this is how -- this worm is very sneaky, it goes into your computer and it steals a word or phrase from your computer that's familiar to you. And for every single time it replicates itself it has a different name, in this case it's "script.vbs." But that ".vbs" clues me in that this could be the virus. Now If I were to double click on that it would go in and wipe out all the files on my computer and I couldn't even restart, I'd have to reinstall Windows.

Now if you want to protect yourself against this, you can go to Microsoft. And they have a patch up for this which will prevent you from opening e-mail attachments from within Outlook. You have to save them to hard disk and then open them otherwise. So once again we see here the wisdom of never opening e-mail attachments unless you know for sure who they came from.

If you sent me one I'd want to call you, Lou, and say: did you send me this? and what did you put on the little subject line? And then and only then would I open it up. So finally let me show you, this is what we want to do, we want to practice safe X. Safe X, Lou, we want to go to the little X on the e-mail attachment. Right here, the X, the delete button, and we want to press it and we want to get rid of that offending message, safe X. That's the way.

Lou, back to you.

WATERS: Well done.

What about this virus made it potentially more dangerous?

LOCKRIDGE: Well, the fact that, first of all, it was very sneaky and every time it replicated itself and mailed itself to everybody in your Outlook address book just like the "Love Bug" did. It had a different name, so it wasn't like the "ILOVEYOU" which you knew once you heard about it that you could delete it. And the second thing is instead of just wiping out your picture files and your MP3 music files, it was going to indiscriminately wipe out everything on your hard drive that wasn't open at the time you double clicked -- Lou.

WATERS: All Right, Rick Lockridge at CNN Interactive.

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