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I Love You and Other Viruses

by Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

In May, 2000, thousands of e-mail users encountered the I Love You virus and the NewLove virus. The I Love You virus was the fastest-moving virus yet recorded, and the NewLove virus, discovered on May 18, is a variant. When opened, both virus programs will rename files, disrupting normal operation of the infected computer.

Note that the ending for each of these virus files is .vbs. If you receive by e-mail any file with that ending, do not open the file. Move the file to your Recycle bin, then empty the Recycle bin. If you eliminate the file without opening it, your computer will not be infected.

By specific definition, these are computer worms, because they replicate themselves by sending copies to other computers. These particular viruses spread by using Microsoft Outlook. After one of these viruses has been received and opened, the virus sends itself to every address in the Outlook address book.

We know that corporations commonly standardize on one particular software for each major task, and Microsoft is the leading supplier of Windows office software. This means that as soon as the first computer in a corporation is infected, the virus is quickly disseminated throughout the corporation and to any business partners in the infected address book.

If you do not use Microsoft Outlook for e-mail, any infection you incur will not be transmitted to others. However, your computer files will be damaged if you open the viral attachment.

It's time for all of us to practice safe e-mail


1. No candy from strangers or friends. We must follow the rule of not opening an unexpected attachment from anyone, whether we know the person or not.

2.Always use protection. We need the protection of good anti-virus software with frequent updates of the anti-virus files for that software.

If you have anti-virus software installed on your computer, that software notices when a known virus arrives. Then the software asks whether you want to discard the virus file.

There are two major names in anti-virus software:

Norton AntiVirus 2000 from Symantec


Go to to purchase Norton AntiVirus 2000 for $39.95. You can purchase the Windows 95/98 program as a file downloadable today, or as a full software package to be shipped to you.

McAfee VirusScan from McAfee


You can still go to to get anti-virus information, but you may not be able to purchase the software online. I suggest that you use this site only for information.



We need up-to-date anti-virus software, and I recommend Norton AntiVirus. If you purchase online, the program will come with the latest anti-virus files. If you prefer to purchase from your local store, be sure to go to the Symantec site and download the free, updated anti-virus files. Follow the instructions to update the software on your computer. Finally, remind yourself to download updated anti-virus files frequently.

Happy virus-free computing!

~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is an Information Architect who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at or visit her Web site at





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