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Love Bug Suspects Sought Antivirus Employment

January 4, 2001

It could have been an awkward situation if not completely odd - virus writers working for an anti-virus company.

A week before the devastating ILOVEYOU worm virus was detected in computer systems worldwide, the alleged creators of the virus were about to be taken on as programmers of a leading anti-virus firm, the local subsidiary of Trend Micro said.

Onel de Guzman and Michael Buen, two principal suspects accused of making the destructive Love Bug, could have readily qualified as anti-virus programmers because "they were very good," according to Theresa Consunji, human resources manager of Trend Micro Inc.

De Guzman and Buen are former classmates at AMA Computer College. Both students came under intense scrutiny when the Love Bug exploded on May 4 last year after school officials told the public the two students might have combined their theses to create the virus.

Buen acquired his diploma on May 5, a day after the Love Bug spread like wildfire. De Guzman was not able to graduate from AMA after the password-stealing program he proposed as a thesis was rejected by the school.

Authorities failed to pin down the two due to lack of applicable laws. The E-commerce Law, legislation that gives penalties for cyber crimes such as hacking, was passed only after the event had occurred and thus cannot be applied retroactively.

Consunji revealed that Buen, who was a friend and school buddy of De Guzman, even received a perfect score in his qualifying exam. The computer science graduate registered the highest possible mark of 100 percent in the examination done in assembly language.

Buen was only waiting for the official results of the exam when the issue erupted.

De Guzman, on the other hand, failed to take the test but his application was seriously considered, said Consunji. "Onel (de Guzman) could have also passed the exam if he was able to take it," she stated.

That incident, however, proved fateful for the anti-virus company as De Guzman and Buen were soon implicated in the writing of the destructive Love Bug.

Officials of the Japan-based Internet content security company were unanimous in saying they could not have allowed De Guzman and Buen to stay in the firm a minute longer if the suspects found themselves working for the company at a time when the Love Bug made the rounds.

"That would have been sufficient reason to file an administrative case against them," declared Consunji.

Jeffery Sy, business development manager of Trend Micro, said it was extremely difficult to see the company employ De Guzman and Buen even with their remarkable talent.

"It's unethical for both parties because we clearly don't belong in the same direction. We are an anti-virus company that invests a huge amount of money on finding cure to viruses, and here you are employing people who were accused of creating a malicious virus," Sy remarked.

The whereabouts or present occupations of De Guzman and Buen are not known as of this time. But reports have it that De Guzman has flown off to the UK to work for an English firm.

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