The attack was a wildly successful case of social engineering, sending people a malicious attachment via the hijacked e-mail address of someone the victims knew. The worm arrived as an e-mail attachment, subject line: ILOVEYOU. Because it was from someone known and trusted, people opened the attachment.
The threat landscape has changed since LoveBug. V3.co.uk quotes Symantec Hosted Services senior analyst, Paul Wood, as saying:
It was very significant at the time and the landscape was entirely different. We didn't have the same number of broadband connections, and people were using the Internet differently. We don't see so many mass mailer outbreaks now. They tend to be more targeted.
Wood adds that LoveBug is significant for being an early example of a scripted virus, which gave rise to a number of variants and copycats.