The University Record, May 8, 2000

‘Love’ e-mail messages are potent virus

By Wanda Monroe
Office of the University Chief Information Officer

On May 4, computer users worldwide signed on to e-mail to find what they believed to be a love letter from a friend, co-worker or acquaintance. While perhaps surprised by the subject line, what they really found was a potent virus called VBScript/Love Letter.

The virus is similar to the Melissa virus that was a problem a little moer than a year ago. Like Melissa, this virus uses a mass-mailing technique to send itself to mailboxes and then e-mails itself to the names in a user’s address book. While the Melissa virus was limited to the first 50 names in the address book, the VBScript/Love Letter sends to all entries, creating a flurry of e-mail and possibly deleting files.

After learning of the virus, the Virus Busters team, with help from others at the University, obtained a fix for the problem and made available the drivers (anti-virus software), alerted support staff and others and placed information on University Web sites.

“The U-M Virus Busters team responded to this problem quickly and professionally,” said Jose-Marie Griffiths, university chief information officer and executive director of the Information Technology Division. “With the team’s help, I believe we’ve restrained this virus, which could have been a significant problem.”

While still being analyzed, the virus appears to initially affect those using Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express on a personal computer, although the infected messages can be transferred to others who do not use this software.

To obtain the appropriate anti-virus software for your machine, contact your system administrator, or download the software from the Web at www.umich.edu/~virus-busters/extra.drv for Dr. Solomon’s Anti-Virus (DSAV) Toolkit; and www.umich.edu/~virus-busters/extra.dat for the VirusScan software.

For more information on the VBScript/Love Letter, see the “Hot News” section on the Virus Busters home page at www.umich.edu/~virus-busters/.


To help prevent computer viruses:

  • Keep anti-virus software up-to-date.

  • Ensure that programs that automatically launch an application are turned off.

  • Be cautious of accepting or opening unsolicited e-mail attachments.