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Sydney hacker: New Love like my virus

The Australian hacker that brought down the Australian Republican Movement's telecommunications system has told the United States media he may have written the original worm upon which the world's latest email virus, New Love, is based.

But "Valiant" wants to make it clear that someone else added the malicious payload.

Respected US news site reported yesterday that "Valiant", head of the Australian hacker group Halcon, said the New Love virus bore a "remarkable resemblance" to his worm, "Iloveyoutoo".

But the hacker quickly added, "I've never written a malicious virus".

At the weekend, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation launched an investigation into New Love, a worm that is more harmful than the Love Bug and harder to detect as it changes its name each time it is forwarded through Microsoft's Outlook address book.

The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Centre warned that the "polymorphic" worm overwrites all computer files currently not in use.

Valiant told the Herald he had not been contacted by the FBI. The hacker had sent his worm to Wired earlier in the week.

"The virus I wrote was simply a demonstration virus for the American media to show them how easy it is," he said yesterday.

In an interview with Wired earlier this month, Valiant detailed how he had taken out ARM headquarters' entire telecommunications system last year. The article looked at the possibility of putting a Melissa-like virus into the phone system.

Valiant, a teenager, heads a Sydney Web design company, which employs mostly student Web designers.

Valiant says he did not attend university and dropped out of high school, instead teaching himself the ins and outs of computer code from the Internet, bulletin boards and books.

The Australian Computer Response Team's senior security analyst, Mr Eric Halil, said that despite overseas reports that New Love infections were slowing down, Australian Internet users should still remain vigilant this morning.

"We are unable to gauge the real impact in Australia because the virus broke out on a Friday. People should know it is a possibility," Mr Halil said.

Major software makers said in the handful of cases where New Love hit the United States and Europe, it wreaked more damage than either Love Bug or Melissa.

Its spread seems to have been contained by wariness on the part of Internet users told two weeks ago to stop opening unsolicited email attachments in the wake of Love Bug.

Australian company Sony was among those hit by Love Bug earlier this month after a member of its Sydney marketing staff opened an email before technical staff could warn of the virus.

The manager of Sony's national computer network, Mr John Ozturk, later made the decision to filter all email with attachments that arrive for staff.

This means email arrives later, but was seen as the only way to keep up with a constant stream of Love Bug "variants" that arrived each day.


I suppose one could argue that taking out the Australian Republic Movement is not a malicious act. Queer-n-quaint debate flow...this OZ joint is full of coloured BS this morning...must be Fiji's froth and bubble trouble.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (, May 21, 2000

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