NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The "I Love You" computer worm continued to bombard corporate and individual e-mail systems Friday, causing what some analysts estimate to be billions of dollars in lost productivity.|
As many as 11 copycat versions of the "Love You" worm surfaced Friday, further complicating efforts to combat the e-mail plague. While most of the damage came in the form of extra programming hours and lost worker productivity, some companies lost valuable picture and video files.
The CERT Coordination Center, a government-chartered computer emergency team at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said it received reports from hundreds of individual sites indicating more than 600,000 individual computers are affected.
"In addition, we have several reports of sites suffering considerable network degradation as a result of mail, file, and Web traffic generated by the 'Love Letter' worm," CERT said in an advisory issued Friday.
Keith Peer, president of Central Command Inc., a privately held anti-virus protection company, said that all 68 of the Fortune 500 companies his firm serves were affected by the Love worm Thursday, and that their mail servers were taken down. Based on conversations with industry colleagues, Peer estimated that two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies took their mail servers down.
"It's a huge amount of lost productivity," said Peer. One client, a large Internet developer, lost "a tremendous amount" of picture files that were in development for Web site graphics, he said.
Microsoft Corp., Ford Motor Co., Archer Daniels Midland Co., Vodafone AirTouch PLC, and Fidelity Investments were among the heavy hitters infected by the Love bug.
Ford Motor's e-mail system, serving about 125,000 employees around the world, was hit early Thursday morning in Europe. Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said the company's servers were shut down while the company eradicates the virus and should be running by Monday.
Fidelity Investments, the largest mutual fund firm in the U.S., on Friday closed its e-mail system to customers and allowed its employees only limited access.
"Once we feel the external world is safe again, we will open the door," said Fidelity spokesman Vincent Loporchio. E-mail clients often are institutions, which also can contact the firm by phone or fax, he said.
In addition to businesses and personal computer users around the world, the virus also appeared in systems at the Pentagon and other U.S. government agencies. The Federal Reserve Board in Washington temporarily shut down its e-mail to member banks, but none of the services the Fed provides to depository institutions was disrupted, said Fed spokesman Dave Skidmore.
"We temporarily queued mail coming in from outside the Fed," Skidmore said. "After updating our virus screening software, we were able to get our e-mail running again."
The Love You worm is thought to have originated in the Philippines from a 23-year old Manila man. Police there are investigating the case after being alerted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The author of the virus used the name "Spyder," and his e-mail accounts have been terminated.
Several computer security firms warned Friday that copycat viruses are showing up in e-mails including "Mother's Day," "Susitikim" and "VeryFunny." The subject line of the Susitikim e-mail reads "Susitikim shi vakra kavos puodukui." In the VeryFunny e-mail, the subject line reads "Fw: Joke."
Click here to read CNN.com's full coverage of the I Love You computer virus story
Computer security firms' stocks have benefited from the Love You virus' appearance and the expectation that more copycat viruses will surface over the weekend.
In Friday trading, McAfee (MCAF: Research, Estimates) rose 2-1/2 to 30-1/2, Internet Security Systems (ISSX: Research, Estimates) gained 3-3/8 to 87-13/16, and RSA Security (RSAS: Research, Estimates) added 2-5/16 to 59-15/16.
-- Reuters contributed to this report