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Thursday, May 4, 2000

City & County of Honolulu

‘Love bug’ virus
bites city hard

City system 'hit bad' by
'ILOVEYOU' virus

By Helen Altonn


The city shut down its email system this morning after it was "hit bad" with the "ILOVEYOU" virus, said Courtney Harrington, deputy director of the city information and technology department.

There were scattered reports of infections in businesses and other operations, but early warnings apparently prevented the virus from swamping Hawaii's computer networks.

"The problem is, it just clogs the system," Harrington said. "It uses all the email addresses you have stored in an address book and goes on. It can destroy certain files. We're trying to get a handle on it."

Meanwhile, he said, "People are going to have to go back to talking on the phone."

Arthur Harris, state information systems coordinator, said the state does not use Microsoft's Outlook email program, which the virus affects. He said he had not received any reports this morning of anyone receiving the "ILOVEYOU" virus through the state system.

"We had an early-warning phone message," said Cliff Cisco, Hawaii Medical Services Association senior vice president for communications.


Tips on containing the "love bug" virus:

Bullet If you see "ILOVEYOU" in the subject line of your email, do not open the attachment, "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs." Security experts at Carnegie Mellon University warn that users of the Microsoft Outlook email program and a product called Windows Scripting Host may activate the virus by simply previewing the message. Deleting the message may not be enough. Disabling active scripting in Internet Explorer and users' email program may help.

Bullet Install anti-virus software, if you have not already done so, and check with manufacturers' Web sites for any updates they may post to kill the virus.

Bullet Network administrators should filter and delete incoming mail with "ILOVEYOU" in the subject line and "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs" as an attachment name.

"It had been picked up already, and our virus screening people are going after it."

Kaiser Permanente also received an alert from its national office, said spokeswoman Jan Kagehiro. "Everyone was sent an email describing this virus early this morning. We advised people, 'If you get this in your inbox, delete it; don't open it.'"

She said the hospital's Lotus Notes servers also were updated so any email fitting the description of the "ILOVEYOU" message would be destroyed.

The Queen's Medical Center and St. Francis Medical Center said they do not use the Outlook system and were not affected.

Some of Hawaii's major businesses said the virus hit their computer systems, but they were able to contain the problem.

"It was here," said Kit Beuret, spokesman at Oceanic Cable, which operates the high-speed Road Runner Internet service via cable lines. Supervisors this morning told staff not to go into email, and are working to remove it, Beuret said.

He did not know how many computers were affected. The company has a policy to never open email attachments that come from people they do not know or addresses they do not recognize. "It's pretty much routine nowadays."

One worker at Alexander & Baldwin Inc. received the message containing the virus but did not open it, said Greg Isobe, information systems manager. The employee had already heard about the virus from the news, Isobe said. Isobe heard about the "love bug" on the news and came in early to check the system and warn the staff.

Bank of Hawaii had no reports of computers affected this morning, spokesman Stafford Kiguchi said. The bank has warned all staff to look out.

Some employees at the Honolulu Police Department received the e-mail but did not open it, said Michelle Yu, spokesperson.

CINCPAC reported no problems with military computers on the island but closed all of its unclassified email systems and is running anti-virus programs through its computers as a precaution.

Several of LavaNet's customers called this morning after news broke, said president Yuka Nagashima.

The company is updating its Web site to warn people of the virus, how it works and how to avoid it. The bug had not affected LavaNet's own computers as of this morning.

Clifton Royston, systems architect and one of the founders of LavaNet INTERNET Access, said the virus is similar to other email viruses spread the past year.

"People who were paying attention to earlier warnings about what was good practice in terms of how you handle email -- not opening attachments that people send you unless you're exactly sure of what it is -- those people are unlikely to be affected," he said.

The Hawaii Newspaper Agency's business service was down today because of the virus. A sign was posted saying, "No email, shared folders or network printers will be available until further notice."

Star-Bulletin business writer Tim Ruel contributed to this report.

City & County of Honolulu

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