Sometimes a computer user gets tired of flying toasters. That was the gamble taken by the creators of MyLife, a worm with multiple variants infecting PCs in March and April 2002.

MyLife arrived in true worm fashion as an email attachment that looked innocent enough (though written by someone with poor spelling skills). With the subject line “my life ohhhhhhhhhhhhh,” the email asked the user to check out the attachment, which was a .scr, or screensaver, file.

The original attachment displayed a picture of a little girl sniffing a flower; later variants used the subject line “The List” and promised caricatures of U.S. President Bill Clinton or Israeli politician Ariel Sharon. To further entice the recipient to open the attachment, the message ended with “No Viruse (sic) Found, McAfee.com,” offering a false sense of security.

MyLife’s attachment is more malicious than it looks

Of course, the MyLife attachment delivered more than a fun screensaver. Once the attachment was opened — written in Visual Basic — it displayed a fake error message and sent itself to everyone in the computer’s Outlook address book and MSN Messenger contact list. The worm also copied itself to the Windows system directory and added itself to the registry key, attempting to delete SYS and COM files, among others.

Luckily, an error in the code in the initial release of MyLife prevented the files from actual deletion. In later variants, the code was fixed, and if the machine booted between 8 and 9 a.m., files were deleted. Network administrators who had blocked receipt of .scr files helped keep the spread of MyLife in check.

Photo: Georgejmclittle / Shutterstock

Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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