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Summer Brings Mosquito-Borne Malware (Part 1 of 3)

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This three-part series by Cyrus Peikari, Seth Fogie, Jonathan Read, and David Hettel discusses the menace of viruses for handheld devices. Part 1 catalogs mobile malware known to date.

Wireless and embedded viruses, along with other malware, have already appeared in the wild on handheld platforms. In this three-part series, we investigate "airborne" viruses and other wireless or embedded malware, including short message service (SMS) attacks and Trojan horses. Part 1 of this article catalogs mobile malware known to date. Part 2 dissects the most recently known finding in the wild—a Symbian worm that spreads via Bluetooth. In part 3, we conclude by introducing and analyzing a brand-new bug. To our knowledge, this is the first Trojan in the wild written specifically to infect cellular phones. Remember, you heard it here first.


Phage was the first PDA virus and was discovered on the PalmOS in September 2000. When the virus is executed, infected PDA files display a gray box that covers the screen, whereupon the application terminates. In addition, the virus infects all other applications on the device.

When a "carrier" device is synchronized with a clean PDA, the clean PDA receives the Phage virus in any infected file. This virus will in turn copy itself to all other applications on the clean device.

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