Vulnerability to viruses
16th May 2005 (Computimes)

AS mobile phones began to work more like personal computers, the more likely they will suffer a similar fate. The risk of being attacked by viruses has become more real as news of Cabir being detected in 22 countries hit the Internet.

The latest news of this attack came from New Zealand, reports ZDNet. Cabir, which infects mobile phones using the popular Symbian operating system (OS) has also been detected in Australia and Greece previously.

Since its discovery last year, there has been many variants of the Cabir virus. As documented by European based anti-virus firm F-Secure, Cabir replicates over Bluetooth connection and arrives at the phone messaging inbox as caribe.sis - a file that contains the worm.

When the uninitiated user clicks on this file and chooses to install it, the worm activates and starts sending copies of itself to the first Bluetooth-enabled device on "discoverable" mode that it finds. The crux is, the replication routine in Cabir contains a bug that causes it to lock onto only the first device it finds, meaning the infection rate is once per activation.

Tim Deluca-Smith, SmartTrust Ltd's communications manager reveals that with nearly 1.5 billion global system for mobile communications (GSM) users around the world, the percentage of users who has been affected by the recent viruses does not even register on the scale. He cautions that a virus explosion is just around the corner.

Anti-virus companies are preparing for more mobile platform virus attacks. For example, Trend Micro has Trend Micro Mobile Security tool that blocks spam besides viruses, while F-Secure offers F -Secure Mobile Anti-Virus for Series 60.

The F-Secure solution offers real-time protection against harmful content in the device and memory card. Easy to use, it scans all files when they are saved, copied, downloaded via GPRS, synchronised or modified. Compatible with Nokia 3550, 3660, 6600, 6670, 7610, 7650, N-Gage and Siemens SX1, the software is available at www.f for purchase (a 30-day trial version is available as well). There are plans to bring it to Malaysia and have its pricing localised, said Charles Kong, the general manager of Powerbloc Generation Sdn Bhd, the distributor company for F-Secure security solutions.

Recently, Symantec released its Symantec Mobile Security 4.0 anti-virus and firewall solution for Symbian OS-based smartphones.