Italian Love Bug spotted

By Philip Willan, IDG News Service |  Development

An Italian version of the Love Bug computer virus has affected a small number
of European companies but appears to have only an inoffensive bite, industry sources
said Friday.

The bug began spreading on Wednesday night and has affected a small number
of companies in Italy, Germany and France, published reports said. Tagged "Cartolina"
(postcard), the virus changes the default page of Internet Explorer to that
of an Italian music Web site, http://www.vije.it, and sends copies of itself
to everyone in the victim's address book, the reports said.

"We put out an alert about this virus yesterday evening," a spokeswoman
for Seat-Tin.it SpA, Italy's largest Internet service provider (ISP), said in
a telephone interview Friday. "The damage appears to be limited. It just
reproduces itself and modifies the home page. It hasn't caused the kind of havoc
we saw six months ago with the 'I Love You' bug."

The infectious attachment is named "Cartolina.VBS" and has a subject
line reading: "C'e una cartolina per te!" (There's a postcard for
you). The body of the message reads "Ciao, un tuo amico ti ha spedito una
cartolina virtuale ... mooolto particolare!" (Hi, a friend has sent you
a virtual postcard... veeery special!)

The Seat-Tin.it spokeswoman said the company had no data on the extent of damage
caused by the worm, but was advising its 4 million customers to avoid opening
unexpected attachments ending in .vbs, .vba and .exe.

"I haven't received any information about the presence of this virus,"
said Massimo Vignoli, head of network security at the Italian Bankers' Association
(ABI). "If the problem were serious, we would hear about it immediately.
It looks as though it should be fairly easy to fix, but we will have to wait
and see whether there is anything more to it that has not yet emerged."

"The virus doesn't seem to have had much impact," said Stefano Lamborghini,
secretary general of the Association of Italian Internet Providers (AIIP). "I
haven't been notified about it by any of the providers."

The virus was unlikely to spread globally or affect the United States because
it is written in Italian, security experts said.

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