On May 4, 2000, the “I Love You” virus spread around the world in a blistering fashion. In a few days, it hit the computer systems of the Pentagon, the CIA, and big companies like L’Oréal, Siemens and Nestlé. This little piece of code has infected tens of millions of computers, making it one of the most virulent viruses in history.
The author was identified a few days later: he is a 24-year-old Filipino named Onel de Guzman. He will not be worried because at that time, the law of his country does not provide for this type of crime. Twenty years after the facts, a British journalist found his trace in Manila, the capital, and questioned him on his motivations, in a report published on May 4, 2020 on the BBC news site.
According to the author of the “I Love You” virus, its original purpose was not to create dangerous malware, but simply to surf the Internet for free. At that time, you could connect to the network from different phone lines with someone else's password and ID. De Guzman is said to have sent an initial version of his virus to a few targets to recover their codes, people he used to socialize with in online chat rooms.
Address book search
It was later that the young man armed his virus to spread automatically, rummaging through infected computers looking for the address book of Outlook email software and then sending himself to dozens of correspondents. De Guzman has the idea of naming his virus LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.VBS. ” I thought a lot of people want a boyfriend, they want love “He tells the BBC today.
Many people indeed click on this message which looks, if we look too quickly, at a text file “TXT”, but which turns out to be a piece of computer code “VBS” if we take the trouble to read his name to the end. Aggressive, the virus infects computer memory by taking the place of photos or pieces of music that it destroys in the process. “I Love You” will be responsible for damages estimated at ten billion dollars.
Onel de Guzman is now 44 years old. Questioned by the BBC, he expressed his regret for the damage caused. “I never imagined that the virus would go to the United States and Europe. It surprised me “, he says now. He even goes so far as to confess … suffer from his fame. “Sometimes my photo appears on the Internet. My friends tell me, “But it's you!” I'm a shy person, I don't want that. “
A small repair shop
A speech that contrasts with the one he made when he was younger. In 2000, a few months after the virus was created, the young man declared to the New york times : “I think I have become part of the history of the Philippines. It cannot be deleted. “ At that time, the damage caused did not cause him as many feelings. De Guzman Points Responsibility For Microsoft Marketing “Vulnerable products”.
The young man even imagines a future as a designer of tamper-proof software. According to him, many computer companies tried to poach him in the weeks following the publication of the virus, but Onel de Guzman cannot find a job when his judicial future becomes clear a few months later.
He also did not graduate from university after his final dissertation was rejected. Rendered before the fateful date of May 4, this thesis described a computer program close to the “I Love You” virus. His teacher then rejected it with the mention ” It's illegal. We don't train thieves “.
Onel de Guzman now runs a small repair shop for mobile phones with a narrow, messy counter. This is where the BBC found him after a lengthy investigation through obscure forums devoted to the Filipino underground internet, and then by dozens of workshops in Manila.