New Virus Is Worse, but We're Better Prepared

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Love was decidedly not lovelier the second time around — but this time the world seemed to be ready for it. Just a couple of weeks after the "ILOVEYOU" computer bug wheedled its way into our hearts and hard drives, another virus was making the rounds of the world's computers Friday. This one, called "NewLove," is even more insidious, taking its subject line from a recently used file — say, the one your boss sent you about that big meeting next week. It adds a "FW:" (forwarded) and a ".vbs" at the end of the file name, and that's what users need to look out for. If "NewLove" gets opened, it wreaks far more havoc than the original, crashing the host computer and wiping files clean.

TIME Digital writer Lev Grossman says it's a good thing we didn't get this one first. "The Love Bug was a relatively unsophisticated program, and it didn't do very much damage," he says. "This one is not only more destructive, but much sneakier." There's an upside to that havoc though: "This worm is too destructive to go very far," said Mikko Hypponen, Manager of Anti-Virus Research at F-Secure Corporation. "When people were hit by the Love Bug, they didn't notice it until they were contacted by people whom they had sent the virus to. With NewLove, your computer crashes immediately and you lose your files. It's difficult to miss that." Grossman adds that with this virus, the warnings issued in the wake of the Love Bug are having the desired effect. "It helps that the last one is so fresh in people's minds that they're still wary about what might be coming in through their e-mail." It's a good thing that no one ever forgets a tragic love affair. Especially if it just happened two weeks ago.