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Love Bug variant poses little threat

Small earthquake, few injured

Computer security experts expect to downgrade from medium to low the threat posed by a variant of the ILOVEYOU e-mail virus known as "VBS/LoveLetter.bd."

Detected last week, the variant arrives as an e-mail and when opened, secretly launches code that steals bank account identification numbers and forwards them to others electronically.

So far, customers of United Bank of Switzerland appear to be the virus' only victims. No cases have so far been cited in the UK. Officials at virus software vendor Network Associates, said they have received reports of fewer than 20 cases worldwide.

"We've seen virtually no more activity since Tuesday night when we had about 15 reports from throughout Europe and mainly from Germany," said Sal Viveros, a director with the company's Antivirus Emergency Response Team.

"Unless you're a customer of the Swiss bank, you're not really going to be affected because (the virus) goes into their special online banking program and steals PINs (personal identification numbers) from that," he said.

Still, Viveros warned that users still shouldn't let their guards down.

"The unfortunate part of this is that it has now given people a roadmap," he said. "Once virus writers or hackers create something a little different, we see all sorts of copycats. We'll be watching very closely in the next month for attacks on online banking programs."


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