What is the First Computer Virus in the Philippines?

Onel de Guzman developed the ILOVEYOU virus, commonly referred to as the Love Bug, for his undergraduate thesis project at Manila’s AMA Computer College. Over time, the virus spread worldwide and infected millions of computers and networks worldwide.

Its scale dwarfed previous cyber attacks and served as a stark reminder of the need for improved cybersecurity practices and awareness, while revealing gaps in global legislation governing malware creators.


What is The First Computer Virus in the Philippines. The ILOVEYOU virus, more commonly known as Love Bug worm, was one of the most destructive malware outbreaks ever. Infected millions of computers and causing billions in damage. Furthermore, its vulnerability remains relevant today.

Two Filipino college students created the virus and disseminated it via email, duping users into opening malicious attachments they thought were harmless and sending copies of itself out to everyone in their address book. It quickly escalated, overwriting computer system files and sending copies out in all corners of the globe causing widespread outages which sent shockwaves through global society, awakening public to risks posed by malware.

Though the virus caused immense destruction, its authors were never charged criminally due to lack of laws against hacking at that time in the Philippines. But a BBC reporter named Geoff White tracked Onel de Guzman down at a mobile phone repair shop in Manila; now regretful of writing it and never intending for its widespread spread, Onel now regrets having created it and regrets having written such an impactful piece of malware.


In May 2000, a computer virus known as the ILOVEYOU worm spread around the world infiltrating millions of computers and disrupting office systems from Hong Kong to Parliament House in London. Evaluations suggest it caused anywhere between 30% to 80% of networked computers in certain countries to crash as a result.

Microsoft Windows systems were infected with this malware by overwriting important files with copies of itself and sending copies out via every email address in its address book, thus overloading computer networks.

Onel de Guzman, 24, an undergraduate graduate student at AMA computer college in the Philippines was suspected of creating the worm but never prosecuted due to insufficient evidence and due to no article specifically criminalizing cybercrime at that time. Although de Guzman dropped out from AMA after just one semester, later opening a small cell phone repair shop in Manila he eventually ran his own modest enterprise repairing cell phones himself.


One of the first major computer viruses ever, the ILOVEYOU worm (sometimes referred to as Love Letter virus or Love Bug) first emerged in May 2000 and rapidly spread via email attachments in order to infiltrate computers. It quickly become an outbreak, infecting millions of computers globally over the course of eight months before eventually dying off altogether in October 2001.

At that time, this virus posed as a text file attached to email messages – one of the most frequent types. Unsuspecting recipients were then lured into opening it, thus activating its execution and replication processes and spreading further via their email list. Once inside a computer’s system, more infections occurred with each new email received containing its attachment from each victim allowing it to infiltrate even more machines.

Onel de Guzman, 24, who claimed that he created the virus to steal other users’ passwords and gain free access to their accounts, was accused of creating the ILOVEYOU worm; however, no charges were ever brought due to lack of laws against hacking at that time in the Philippines.

ILOVEYOU exploits

On May 4, 2000, ILOVEYOU computer virus quickly spread worldwide, infecting millions of computers and wreaking havoc. It became the first virus ever to attract global attention and spurred improved cybersecurity measures worldwide.

This virus spread through email attachments offering romantic “love letters.” Once opened, this “Love Bug” would connect to a server and distribute itself among all contacts in an individual’s address book – even deleting files and manipulating programs to do this.

Onel de Guzman of AMA Computer College Manila created ILOVEYOU as part of his undergraduate thesis project and included it into ILOVEYOU’s code to access the internet himself; his intention was to steal passwords so he could gain entry himself; due to no legislation against malware creation at that time, there were no legal repercussions for doing this work in the Philippines.