Today marks the 10th anniversary of the LoveBug virus, seen by many as a key milestone in the evolution of malware. The virus managed to infect an estimated 45 million email users in just one day.

Hosted security vendor MessageLabs, now known as Symantec Hosted Services, was one of the first to intercept LoveBug on 4 May 2000, and watched the mass mailer virus rise from one in 1,000 emails to one in 28.

The malware writers used the rather crude social engineering technique of sending the virus as a text file attachment to an email containing the intriguing subject line 'ILOVEYOU'.

Once curiosity got the better of the recipient and they opened the attachment, a malicious Visual Basic Script sent itself to every email address in their address book.

The virus was very much a product of its time, with the threat landscape dominated by the efforts of "script kiddie" attacks, rather than organised crime.

"Our understanding is that at the time there was no obvious criminal intent and no monetary aspect to the attack," said Symantec Hosted Services senior analyst, Paul Wood.

"It was destructive in a 'look at me' fashion, designed to spread and wreak havoc."

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