Philippines Probes Programming Group over 'Love Bug' Virus

Published May 12th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Philippine authorities on Friday said they will investigate a group of computer programmers after one of its members admitted he may have accidentally produced the "Love Bug" virus. 

Carlos Caabay, deputy director for investigation services at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), said members of the so-called Grammersoft group "are targets for investigation." 

Grammersoft member and former computer science student Onel de Guzman on Thursday told journalists "it is possible" he may have accidentally sent the "ILOVEYOU" virus, the most destructive of its kind ever unleashed on the Internet. 

Grammersoft allegedly provided programming to small businesses and wrote and sold theses to computer science students. 

Experts said the word Grammersoft appeared on the text of the virus sent via electronic mail. 

De Guzman, 23, a former student at the AMA Computer College here, wrote a thesis on stealing passwords but it was junked by the school as illegal. 

He is the brother of Irene de Guzman, the live-in partner of Reonel Ramones, who was detained on Monday as the "alleged author" of the bug but was subsequently released due to insufficient evidence. 

Caabay said the NBI had invited Onel and Irene for questioning, but the due were advised by their lawyers to observe their right against self-incrimination. 

De Guzman's admission that he might have produced the virus does not automatically mean Ramones is no longer the prime suspect in the case, Caabay said. 

"There is a sort of an indirect admission. While he does not admit he has intentionally released the virus, we will continue investigating and he is one of the possible suspects," Caabay told AFP. 

However, he said the lawyer for De Guzman and Irene had informed the NBI that he had advised his clients "not to give any statements" and to "press charges" against agents of the bureau if they were arbitrarily questioned. 

An NBI technical team was working overtime to decode files from 17 diskettes seized from the home of Ramones on Monday, which could yield more evidence. 

Among those who would be invited for questioning are eight other students who may be friends of de Guzman or members of Grammersoft whose names appeared in the diskettes, Caabay said. 

The "ILOVEYOU" virus was launched and spread through a desktop in Manila's Pandacan district last week, invading millions of computer systems worldwide - (AFP) 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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