"Love" Virus Brings Computers to a Standstill(TeeVee News Services) --
The virus, named after Time Of Your Life star Jennifer Love Hewitt, activates when recipients open an attachment to their e-mail with the subject line, "JenniferLovesYou." The bug then infects files on users' hard drives with an MP3-file of the actress singing You Light Up My Life.
"It was horrible," said Lillian Bancroft, a Salem, Ore., IT administrator. "Bad enough that our entire network of computers crashed because of this virus. But now I have Jennifer Love Hewitt's horrible screeching stuck in my brain. For God's sake, she can't even carry a tune."
The effects of the Love virus were felt far beyond the tech world. In Tempe, Ariz., an entire office park had to be evacuated and 17 workers hospitalized when an entire bank of computers began playing the Jennifer Love Hewitt song at full volume.
"Most of them were bleeding from the ears," said Tempe police spokesman Larry Osbert. "But a few were shaken pretty badly. One guy just kept screaming, 'You light up my days, and fill my nights with song.' Over and over again.
"It was the most horrible thing I've ever seen," Osbert added. "And I've been to 'Nam."
At first, computer security experts feared the virus was a new strain of the dreaded "Love" Bug, a glitch that infected computers worldwide with the ghostly voices of Dean Jones and Buddy Hackett. But experts concluded the virus was the work of Hewitt after noting the bug's telltale "perky disposition, infectious enthusiasm and gravity-defying hooters."
Experts are baffled as to why Jennifer Love Hewitt would attempt to cripple the Internet's infrastructure. But sources close to the temperamental star say it fits in with a pattern of crimes that began ever since "Can't Hardly Wait" failed to strike it big at the box office.
"Don't let her sunny disposition fool you," former Party of Five co-star Scott Wolf said. "Jennifer is a whiz with the computers, an experienced hacker and a cold-blooded criminal genius. Plus, she once made Lacey Chabert cry."
Authorities have begun a 12-state man-hunt for Hewitt, who has not been heard from since Time Of Your Life debuted last fall.
This is the second time in less than a year that a computer virus has forced computer networks across the world to shut down. Six months ago, the Melissa virus -- generated by Sabrina The Teenage Witch's Melissa Joan Hart -- crippled hard drives across the country. That glitch also spread via e-mail, before breaking into encrypted files and forcing your computer to hire members of Melissa Joan Hart's family.
Experts fear systems attacks like the Love and Melissa viruses are only the beginning. "Today's young actors have unprecedented wealth, fame and programming skills," said Dr. Christoper Gessel, a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist. "It's not unreasonable to believe that in between shooting episodes of their popular WB shows and filming various sequels to 'Scream' and 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' these fabulous-looking young people are sequestered in their basements, assembling intricately designed computer bugs. Isn't it?"
Indeed, authorities say they've been keeping tabs on such young stars as Felicity's Keri Russell, Shasta's Jake Busey and Popular's Leslie Bibb as potential troublemakers.
"Obviously, everyone's innocent until proven guilty, but these kids fit the pattern of master hackers," FBI Special Agent Scott Whitaker said. "Especially that Busey kid. He just looks like trouble."
Just last week, FBI agents seized Dawson's Creek star James Van Der Beek in a daring predawn raid on suspicion that Van Der Beek was developing a computer virus of his own. Van Der Beek's virus reportedly triggered computers to launch into long tangential riffs invoking existentialism, leitmotifs and imagery from assorted Steven Speilberg movies.
"And the shame of it all, is these kids should know better," Whitaker said. "It's not like they're a bunch of no-goodniks like that Diff'rent Strokes crowd."
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