Love is in the air! People are going out to buy boxes of chocolates and flowers for their loved ones, preparing for romantic dinners, and some are hoping that a secret admirer will confess their love. Some seek help from the Internet to make Valentine’s Day as romantic as possible and since many people check their emails first thing in the morning, spammers and other cybercriminals see this as the perfect opportunity to attack.
The ILOVEYOU virus from 2000 did just that, although it was sent on May 5th, not on Valentine’s Day. The virus, a computer worm also referred to as “Love Letter,” originated from the Philippines and was sent via email with the subject line “ILOVEYOU.” The virus went viral when users opened the “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs” attachment included in the email. The opening of the attachment activated the viral basic script, damaging the user’s computer, overwriting image files, and sending copies of itself to addresses in the user’s Microsoft Outlook address book. The virus reached the U.S. on Friday morning, just as people were checking their emails. Since it was sent from someone they knew, and we didn’t have the collective experience of viral spam yet, people trusted the email and opened the attachment. Perhaps they were excited to receive a love letter?