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Summer Brings Mosquito-Borne Malware (Part 2 of 3)

📄 Contents

  1. Wonderful Weather, Terrible Trouble
  2. Exploiting Bluetooth
  3. Cabir
  4. More To Come...
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Continuing their discussion of the spread of viruses to handheld devices, Cyrus Peikari, Seth Fogie, Jonathan Read, and David Hettel dissect the most recently known finding in the wild: a Symbian worm that spreads via Bluetooth.

Wonderful Weather, Terrible Trouble

Summer vacation takes many travelers to the Caribbean. But not everyone can afford to travel there. Ironically, this summer the Caribbean came to many—in the form of a brand-new class of malware.

What does the Caribbean have to do with virus writing? When translated into Spanish, The Caribbean is Caribe, which is also the message displayed on infected devices. Cabir, as the AV industry has named it, is the first known Bluetooth virus that targets mobile phones. While the virus itself is relatively harmless, it represents a new era for virus writers and a new set of worries for mobile phone owners.

All computer-based systems potentially are vulnerable to viruses. However, viruses don't yet write themselves. It takes the right combination of knowledge, understanding, experience, and motivation to create a virus.

Until recently, the mobile phone market was relatively free from the threat of virus attacks. This is a result of several platform limitations: widely diverse devices, lack of support for large file transfers, limited memory and processing power, and the inability to execute/install third-party programs reliably across a wide range of devices. Because each of these limits is a rather significant obstacle to overcome, virus writers have been kept at bay.

However, in the last couple of years, mobile phones have evolved from simple communication devices into miniature computers capable of performing functions that the baby boomer once only dreamed about. The imaginative high-tech gadgets that used to exist in the world of Dick Tracy and Star Trek can now be found in your local mall.

Part of this revolution was a result of the standardization of a few key devices and operating systems. Palm, Windows Mobile (also known as Pocket PC), and Symbian are the big three players in this field, each with several million users. The sheer number of users created a market for third-party programs. Games, applications, and other software soon flooded online sites for users to download and install on their phones. However, along with these productive tools and games came a group of programmers who viewed the mobile phone with a different intent. Thus we saw the creation of the mobile virus.

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