With the growth of the smart phone, mobile phones with Internet connectivity that work like a handheld computer, phone users have also seen the advent of the mobile phone virus. In 2004, the first mobile phone virus, called Cabir, was unleashed, and proved relatively innocuous. The virus form affected phones running Symbian operating systems (OS). It affected phones that were using Bluetooth®, and once the virus was in the phone, it would seek out other Bluetooth® capable devices, infecting them also.
Cabir was an example of a worm, a virus that replicates on other devices. Since Bluetooth® only has a short range, the virus technically could only spread to other devices in close proximity, but, as people moved, they could technically encounter a lot of other smart phones on the move. The spread was quick and the virus is now present in numerous countries. Fortunately, this mobile phone virus only changed a few words, and didn’t affect operation of the phone, though the scanning for other Bluetooth® devices could quickly drain the phone’s battery. Other viruses are not so innocent, and folks are worried that some viruses might be used to completely disable phones, charge customers (which has occurred with the 2006 RedBrowser), or gather secure information about smart phone users.
Another worm making its appearance in 2005 was CommWarrior. It also sends out copies of itself through Bluetooth®, and it can make automatic replies to texts, thus sending the worm on to other users. Doombot appeared in 2006, a Trojan horse virus that appears to be a downloadable cell phone copy of the game Doom 2. When it is downloaded onto a cellphone, it automatically installs both Cabir and CommWarrior, and then keeps the phone from operating properly.
RedBrowser has been most expensive for people, especially in Russia, and is another example of the Trojan horse virus. It makes text calls to a phone number in Russia, which are then charged to the user. Another mobile phone virus that has many people concerned is Flexispy, a bit of spyware that sends logs of the phone calls you make to an Internet server.
People are right to be concerned about the spread of mobile phone viruses to their phones, yet many who study and research this area find that most people don’t take basic precautionary measures. There are numerous security programs for mobile phones, and a lot of people don’t take the time to install them. Additionally, if you want to avoid viruses transmitted by Bluetooth®, you can set your phone to “hidden” or “undiscoverable” while you’re not using it. Taking precautions is excellent, and it’s a good idea not to accept or download any files you don’t recognize, especially if they come from an unknown user.
Since the advent of the Internet, computer virus hoaxes have competed with computer viruses. The same is true of the mobile phone virus. There are real hoaxes, just as there are real viruses. One recent one had folks believing that calls from Pakistan to Afghanistan would transmit an actual physical virus that could cause users to become sick. Mainly, you simply need to be worried about the viruses that might make your mobile phone sick. Installing antivirus programs makes good sense, especially if you want to keep your smart phones healthy.