The year's 10 most troubling viruses

The antivirus software vendor Sophos has released a list of the top ten most insidious viruses of 2000 - and 'Love Letter' is only number two.

          Throughout 2000, hackers have seemed intent on exploiting the emotional side of human nature. Malicious applications tunneled through the world wide web with sneaky subject headers hinting of secret admirers, holiday greetings and even love.

          But a report by UK based antivirus software company Sophos on the 10 most insidious viruses of 2000, has generated some surprise.

          The Love Bug or LoveLetter virus released in May with numerous users falling victim to its "I Love You" or "Love Letter" subject headers was only number two spot on its top 10 list.

          People hoping to find emotional bliss instead found the virus making its way through e-mail address books deleting the files of friends, family and co-workers. The conniving code cost billions of U.S. dollars in damages leaving a bitter taste in users' mouths throughout the year.

          The most devastating virus of the year was Kakworm, according to Sophos. The virus appeared in January and remained one of the top three most prevalent viruses in existence in each month of the year.

          "Love Bug was a shooting star -- lots of action and noise and fury for a relatively short time," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Meanwhile, Kakworm has crept stealthily to the top of the charts."

          Kakworm accounted for 17 % of the calls made to Sophos' help desk throughout the year. The virus attacks users of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and Outlook software. While Microsoft created a patch to try and slow the virus down, Sophos said many users still failed to upgrade their antivirus software and inadvertently helped Kakworm gain the lion's share of damage throughout the year.

          The Navidad virus also made the year's hot list with a late holiday run. Posing as an electronic Christmas card, the virus attacks a user's computer only to leave a nasty holiday surprise. Navidad did not start spreading until November but still managed to steal spot number 7 on the Sophos top ten list.

          Here's the complete list of top ten viruses for the year ranked by the number of complaints Sophos received:

          -- Kakworm at 17 percent

          -- LoveLetter at 14.5 percent

          -- Apology-B at 8.9 percent

          -- Marker at 6.5 percent

          -- Pretty at 5.6 percent

          -- Stages-A at 3.5 percent

          -- Navidad at 3.4 percent

          -- Ska-Happy99 at 2.3 percent

          -- WM97/Thus at 2.1 percent

          -- XM97/Jini at 2.0 percent

          The "other" category contributed to another 34.2 percent of viruses reported.

          The U.S. headquarters for Sophos, in Wakefield, Massachusetts, can be reached at +1-781-213-3456 or

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