It was 20 years ago today… The Love Bug remembered

It was 20 years ago today... The Love Bug remembered

It was twenty years ago today, that the Love Bug hit computer systems worldwide, disguised as a love letter.

Which means I know what I was doing exactly twenty years ago!

James Griffiths at CNN interviewed me about my memories of that historic day:

Graham Cluley was on stage at a security conference in Stockholm, Sweden, when the virus hit Europe. He had just finished describing an unrelated virus which targeted a now-defunct operating system, hijacking users’ accounts to broadcast messages to their coworkers, including “Friday I’m in LOVE.” This, Cluley cracked, was likely to cause severe embarrassment for most people, but could potentially lead to some office romance.

As the conference broke for coffee, attendees’ mobile phones and pagers began going off wildly. Several guests approached Cluley, asking if the virus he’d described was spread via email. He assured them it wasn’t — and, anyway, it was limited to a niche system that most people didn’t use.

“They said, Well, that’s weird because we’re suddenly getting loads of emails with the subject line ‘I love you,'” Cluley said in an interview from his home in the United Kingdom.

When Cluley turned on his own phone, he was bombarded with notifications of missed calls, voice mails and text messages. Back home, Cluley’s employer, the anti-virus firm Sophos, had been getting “absolutely hammered” with phone calls from clients begging for help and journalists trying to understand what the hell was going on.

Cluley raced to the airport to catch a flight to London, and even traded phone batteries with a generous taxi driver as the constant stream of messages drained his Nokia cellphone of power. When he landed in the United Kingdom, a car was waiting to whisk him to a TV studio to discuss what had by now become one of the biggest tech stories in the world.

Read more in the CNN article, but you might also want to check out some other resources:

Twenty years, eh? Flipping ‘eck, we’re all getting old.

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Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

3 comments on “It was 20 years ago today… The Love Bug remembered”

  1. Chris

    not really the main point of the article but… remember when you could just swap Nokia batteries out with friends because everybody had a BL-5c battery or whatever? Imagine that now – mind if we swap batteries? *pulls out heat pad, spudgers and selection of tiny hex drivers*

  2. Simon

    Those of us with even longer memories remember the Internet Worm of 1988.

  3. OrwellsEasrsandNose

    Excellent stuff! thank you, very interesting and nostalgic. Yeah, 20 years! wow.

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