DATE=5/10/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=LOVE BUG COMPUTER VIRUS NUMBER=5-46289 BYLINE=DAVID MCALARY DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= INTERNET= VOICED AT: INTRO: Computer security experts warn that computer viruses like the so-called "Love Bug" from the Philippines are spreading faster and becoming more damaging each year. As Science Correspondent David McAlary tells us, private and public organizations are not doing enough to protect themselves from Internet attacks, although the tools and practices to do so exist. TEXT: Technical experts testifying to the U-S House of Representatives science committee say the "Love Bug" virus circulated through e-mail worldwide on the same day of its dissemination on May fourth. Keith Rhodes of the General Accounting Office - the investigating arm of Congress - points out the virus forced businesses, government agencies, schools, the International Monetary Fund, and Britain's Parliament to shut down their computer networks for protection and repair. /// RHODES ACT /// It shows again that computer attack tools and techniques are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Viruses are spreading faster as a result of the increasing connectivity of today's networks and there is no silver bullet (single) solution to protecting systems. No one thing is going to solve the problem. /// END ACT /// The impact of the Love Bug virus was breathtaking. It was the fastest spreading and the most expensive in history. Peter Tippett - chief technology official of I-C-S-A-dot-net, a company that provides services to computer security firms - says the Love Bug continued a long trend. In the first half of the 1990's, leading viruses took three-years to spread and cost just 50-million dollars combined. Mr. Tippett says each new one since has been speedier and costlier. /// TIPPETT ACT /// Last Thursday, the Love Bug virus was the number-one virus and it took about four-hours to go from birth to the number-one spot. We are currently projecting about 950-million dollars of damage in North American businesses due to the Love Bug virus. /// END ACT /// A California research firm called Computer Economics estimates the global cost of the virus to be nearly seven-billion dollars. The experts told Congress that computer users are largely to blame for their vulnerability to such Internet attacks. The General Accounting Office's Keith Rhodes puts it this way. /// RHODES ACT /// The world is not practicing safe computing. /// END ACT /// Sandra England of the McAfee company - which produces anti-computer virus software - says the Love Bug virus caught many organizations unprepared, despite the disruption they suffered by a virus last year called Melissa. /// ENGLAND ACT /// There are tools to protect systems from these attacks. With the outbreak of Melissa last year, one would think that organizations would have taken virus threats seriously. However, many organizations still have not changed their practices and their internal policies to respond to new virus threats. /// END ACT /// Ms. England suggests one reason for this is that the damage is intangible, not physical. Furthermore, she says implementing adequate virus protection is expensive. Yet Harris Miller - president of the Information Technology Association of America - says protection is vital because Internet assaults by computer hackers will not stop. /// MILLER ACT /// There is a subculture out there that is actively plotting its next move. The Love Bug can be seen as an evolutionary link in the hacking chain. /// END ACT /// Mr. Miller and the other experts say the solution is to educate managers, employees, and the home computer user about the threat and how to assess risks. They say the education should include information about using anti-virus technology and controls on several levels - from organization-wide down to the individual desktop computer. The experts also say the effectiveness of these practices should be routinely tested. Mr. Miller says competing companies usually reluctant to share information must collaborate on computer security issues. He notes that his Information Technology Association of America is developing mechanisms to do this. He also says his organization is hosting the first global computer security summit involving experts from many nations next October in Washington. /// MILLER ACT /// This bug originated outside the United States. It appears in the Philippines. So we must have a global approach to meeting these challenges. /// END ACT /// (SIGNED) NEB/DEM/RAE 10-May-2000 13:24 PM EDT (10-May-2000 1724 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .