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Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

A trick question: exactly what records did ILoveYou break?

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Tuesday, 23 May 2000 ICSA BIGWIG PETER Tippett flew to Washington soon after ILoveYou destroyed the Internet. He told a congressional subcommittee "it took less than four hours for this to become the most destructive computer virus ever." His written testimony called it "by far the most expensive, pervasive and damaging virus in history."
U.S. House Technology Subcommittee chairwoman Constance A. Morella called ILoveYou "the fastest spreading and most expensive computer virus in history, dwarfing the cost of the Melissa virus." Exactly what records did ILoveYou break? What were the exact previous records — and what are the exact new records?
U.S. House Technology Subcommittee chairwoman Constance A. Morella offered specifics in her testimony. "Roughly 47 million people received the [ILoveYou] e-mail worldwide and the virus looked for love in all the wrong places in over 10 million computers. Since its insidious inception in the Philippines, the Love Bug has already proved to be the fastest spreading and most expensive computer virus in history — dwarfing the cost of the Melissa virus." Wow! Somebody notify Guinness. Hey, I'm serious here. Notify them. I can't wait for ICSA to put this baby in the Guinness Book of world records. As you know, every "new record" undergoes an evaluation before it can replace a current record holder in the Guinness book. Record breakers must use metrics and must meet verification standards. No metrics, no verification, no Guinness record. When someone or something "breaks" a record, Guinness can describe the previous and current record with precision. Which brings me to my point — exactly what records did ILoveYou break? What were the exact previous records — and what are the exact new records? Don't bother trying to come up with an answer. I asked a trick question. We can't come to a general consensus about Melissa's wrath last year. Nor can we agree on the amount of damage Chernobyl inflicted last year. Even respected experts like Tippett can only offer guesstimates which fluctuate wildly depending on who you ask. You want a general consensus about ILoveYou's wrath? Forget it. This baby will join its brothers in the analsannuls[1] of history as one more massive, unverified urban legend.
ILoveYou will join its brothers in the analsannuls[1] of history as one more massive, unverified urban legend. A legend created by the experts themselves, no less.
A legend created by the experts themselves, no less. They'll spout all sorts of authoritative BS to anyone who will listen. "The ILoveYou worm/virus traveled u times faster than Melissa and generated v times as many emails. It infected x times as many computers as Chernobyl and caused y times more damage worldwide." Go on, tell it to Guinness. And tell 'em I sent you. "But Rob," you moan, "if you can't prove it incorrect, why can't we just treat it as correct?" I don't know about you, but I just happen to like the Guinness method of verifying records. Metrics and evidence appeal to me for some strange reason.