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Saturday, May 6, 2000

City & County of Honolulu

City stomps on,
recovers from
the 'love bug'

By Tim Ruel


Calm has returned to Hawaii companies and government offices stung Thursday by the "love bug" computer virus.

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., attacked by the bug early on, quickly eradicated it from its computer networks and didn't have any new trouble yesterday, a spokesman said.

The city government, which had to shut down its email accounts all day Thursday to stop the virus from spreading, had the email system back up yesterday for everyone except the 20 or so employees who spread the virus by opening infected messages in their accounts.

There was no real loss to city productivity. More work may have gotten done because people couldn't waste time writing emails to friends when the system was down, said Courtney Harrington, deputy director of the city Information and Technology Department.

"I think we did better business today!" Harrington said.

The infamous virus originally displayed the words "ILOVEYOU" in its email subject line, leading to the name "love bug."

After initial news reports of the attack, the bug resurfaced in new forms, such as a confirmation that an email user had been charged $326.92 for a Mother's Day diamond special, urging the reader to click on an attached invoice to print it. The invoice set off the virus.

The virus attacks weren't entirely a joke, however. Several Hawaii companies faced the cost of temporarily shutting down their computer networks, which effectively curtailed business for several hours.

"That's like shutting down the phone system all day," said network consultant Earl Ford, who runs the downtown Pacific Interactive Corp.

Ford and his engineers ran around Honolulu stopping the "love bug" at Victoria Ward Ltd., First Insurance Co. of Hawaii Ltd. and the Civil Rights Commission of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations on Thursday.

"The virus basically preyed on human curiosity," said Ford, referring to the enticing subject line "ILOVEYOU."

By late afternoon Thursday, however, Ford's clients didn't have any more virus troubles, he said

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