Love and Punishment.

By Zbigniew KozioĊ‚

The third month is passing since the infamous "love bug" destroyed computers and networks around the world causing economical losses estimated to reach about 7 billion dollars.

And the hacker who caused the disease still has not being found. Well, police in Manila, Philippines, believes they have that person.

Director of the Philippine's National Bureau of Investigation had said on June 15 that the agency would file charges within a week against Onel de Guzman, a 22-year-old computer school student. He is supposed to be charged for violation of the law which governs the illegal usage of personal identification numbers and credit cards. This does not look serious: one may think if the Philippine's officials act in a legal way. Just recently only, after the accident has happened, president of the country signed an appropriate legislation that could be used in the future in similar cases.

In fact, it looks that there are some more problems on the way to charge Onel de Guzman and one may wonder if he is not a victim of "love bug" as well:

When the police confiscated materials from his home in the first days of May, they took away just a few floppies and a copy of his thesis. The floppies had been examined for more than a month (sic!) before information has been released that one of them contains a program that is "similar" to the "love bug". The same with his thesis: it is supposed to contain a description of a "similar" program. Apparently, for the Philippine's police these facts are sufficient to charge Onel de Guzman and face him with the perspective of spending 20 years behind the bars.

To have the situation even more surrealistic, several experts pointed out to entirely different origin of "love bug", indicating that it could have being created by at least a few other people. And this is not an insane opinion: VBScript used for that is very easy to learn and modify, a teenage beginner in programming could create similar viruses with no difficulties - just go to an irc chat and you will get a modified copy very easily.

James Atkinson, a computer security specialist from Massachusetts, has been following the case from the start. He is extremely critical about the work of FBI. In Wired News he is cited as saying: "It is impossible to accurately relate my feelings about the profound incompetence and mediocre performance the FBI has recently demonstrated in investigating cases like this, so far I think that the investigation has made several U.S. law enforcement agencies look like fools."

One may ask another serious question: How is it possible at all that Pentagon, an institution supposed to defend the country is not able to protect itself against computer viruses incoming from outside? How is possible that employees there have not been educated how to use their Outlook Express with caution? And yet one more thing, the most important one: How is it possible that Pentagon uses the least secure, most prone to failure operating system, MS Windows? Why not unixes? A matter of costs involved? Linux is a free version of unix and it wouldn't fall in love with VBScript or another attachment received by e-mail.