Posted 15 June 2004 - 11:01 PM
First 'worm' aimed at mobile phones detected
By Scott Morrison in San Francisco
Published: June 16 2004 0:07 | Last Updated: June 16 2004 0:43 Financial Times
Security experts have discovered what is believed to be the world's first computer "worm" aimed at mobile phones.
The worm does not appear to pose an immediate threat to cellphone users, but it suggests that mobile phones are much more vulnerable to virus-writers and hackers than previously thought.
Vincent Gullato, vice-president at security group Network Associates, said the discovery suggested that "we've now entered into an era in which we could very well see more cellphone threats in the future".
The malicious code, dubbed "cabir", is a worm that replicates on the Symbian operating system used in several brands of mobile phones, such as Nokia, Siemens and Panasonic.
The worm was anonymously sent to experts in various countries, but has not been detected circulating among cellphone users. It propagates through the "Bluetooth" wireless technology, repeatedly sending itself to any Bluetooth-enabled device that it can find, regardless of the type. The worm will not damage a phone or its software but shortens the device's battery life by constantly scanning for other Bluetooth-enabled devices.
The worm appears to have been developed by an international group of hackers known as 29A, who specialise in creating viruses and try to show "that no technology is reliable and safe from their attacks".
Anti-virus experts have for some years been highlighting the vulnerability of modern PC-like mobile phones. Mobile makers have been loath to acknowledge the vulnerability of their devices.
If the virus succeeds in penetrating the phone it writes "Caribe" on the screen and is activated every time the phone is turned off and on.
Mr Gullato said the good news was that for the virus to spread, cellphone users would have to accept wireless signals being beamed to the device.
The only easy day was yesterday.
...some do, some don't; some will, some won't (WR)