DATE=5/5/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=COMPUTER VIRUS IMPACT (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-262046 (CQ) BYLINE=MAX RUSTON DATELINE=SAN FRANCISCO CONTENT= Internet=no Voiced At: INTRO: The spread of computer viruses this week has forced many of the world's largest corporations and governments to shut down their computer systems temporarily. The economic toll is mounting quickly, and according to some estimates could reach 10-billion dollars within a few days. Max Ruston reports from San Francisco. TEXT: The latest computer virus attack began with the spread of e-mail messages labeled "I love you." It has since mutated into a variety of different e-mail messages, some with the title "Joke," others called "Happy Mother's Day." Security experts say the virus is easily copied, raising the possibility that it will continue to circulate for weeks under hundreds of different names. The infected e-mail messages are accompanied by attached programs that, when launched, destroy certain files and send duplicate messages to other computer users. Richard Jacobs is president of the computer anti-virus developer Sophos: /// Jacobs Act /// The biggest problem it is causing is denial of service of e-mail. People having to shut down their e-mail systems either because they are overloaded or to keep the situation under control while they clear up. /// End Act /// To some people, that may not sound like a major problem. But when it is repeated by millions of computer users in thousands upon thousands of companies worldwide, the impact is devastating. California-based Computer Economics is a research firm specializing in the impact of computer viruses. One the company's analysts, Samir Bhavnani, says the latest virus, now nicknamed "the love bug," caused more than two-billion dollars in damages during its first day of circulation. He says that figure will rise steadily over the coming week. /// Bhavnani Act /// The one-week impact of this virus will be approximately 10-billion dollars. We calculate that number based upon the total number of recipients of this e-mail. To date, approximately 45-million people have received this e-mail. And we estimate that about half of these people experienced significant business delay, and the median economic impact, which we feel to be pretty conservative, is estimated to be 100-dollars per user. /// End Act /// According to some estimates, the virus spread to about 70 percent of U-S companies in its first 10 hours. Some of the largest corporations in the United States, including Ford, General Motors and Microsoft, were forced to shut down their e-mail systems temporarily to fight the virus. It also led to shut-downs or delays in the computer systems at the Pentagon, the U-S Senate and other government institutions. /// Begin Opt /// Richard Jacobs of Sophos: /// Jacobs Act /// I think by most measures the "love bug" virus is the most widespread, and therefore most serious virus that we have ever seen. /// End Act /// /// End Opt /// Mr. Jacobs says the "love bug" is already serving as a reminder of the importance of computer security measures. The rapid growth of the technology industry and the desire for profits led some companies to spend less than they should have on security, and that is expected to change. But computer security experts say the most effective way to fight the spread of such viruses is to better train end-users in the dangers of unsolicited e-mail. They say that just as young people have traditionally been taught not to talk with strangers, computer users around the world must learn to be careful not to open e-mail messages or attachments that come from unfamiliar people or places. (Signed) NEB/MPR/JP 05-May-2000 17:49 PM EDT (05-May-2000 2149 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .