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First Destructive Mobile Phone Virus In The Wild

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the radio-silence dept.

Security 265

gbjbaanb writes "eek! the BBC is reporting the first mobile phone virus that causes damage is out and about. The virus only works with the Symbian Series 60's OS (no, not the Smartphone) and spreads through an adapted copy of the legitimate Mosquitos game. Once installed, a hidden program sends SMS texts to premium rate numbers. That's not so bad, no doubt the premium rate numbers will be switched off soon but the worst is yet to come - "typically we see them in the wild then copycat ones come along soon after," said Sal Viveros, director of wireless security at McAfee."

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265 comments

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Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940252)

Way to go idiots

bah... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940253)

"typically we see them in the wild then copycat ones come along soon after," said Sal Viveros, director of wireless security at McAfee."

he means after they are done writing and releasing the viruses, of course.

Re:bah... (2, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940662)

Just entertain the thought for a moment: could it be , just by some remote chance, that with Microsoft about the kill the A/V market on Windows, the recent release of new viruses on the previously untouched smart cellphone target isn't just a coincidence?

I mean, you've got to admit, cell phones that do many things a computer does and require a complex OS aren't exactly new, and they've always been "networked" (by definition), but somehow it's only now that this market could provide a bail-out route from the Windows platform for A/V companies that these viruses come out. Strange isn't it?

d'oh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940259)

This is why the phones need to run Linux

Bring on the Symbian/Sybian jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940261)

in 3... 2...

Re:Bring on the Symbian/Sybian jokes (4, Funny)

SlashdotLemming (640272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940403)

I'm sure most Sybians already have viruses :)

Great.... (3, Interesting)

MP3Chuck (652277) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940266)

Yet another reason I'm glad I have my cell phone that ... OH YEA! Just makes calls. Who'd have thunk it?

Re:Great.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940279)

Some people need more than that? Who'd have thunk it? Not you, apparently.

Wow! Where'd'ya find that? (5, Funny)

wiredog (43288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940308)

Is this something new?

Maybe it's the leading edge of a whole, new category of consumer devices! The single purpose device that only does one thing, but does it well!

Re:Wow! Where'd'ya find that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940402)

Don't get your hopes up, it probably won't catch on.

He said it does it. (1, Insightful)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940408)

He said nothing about it doing it well.

A fairly important distinction.

Re:Wow! Where'd'ya find that? (4, Insightful)

FrankHaynes (467244) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940550)

The problem is that marketers, in league with the propeller heads, keep finding more and more features that we don't need while ignoring the one feature that we all demand: reliable voice coverage.

Just because we can do something does not mean that we must or should do it. This is yet another example of a solution searching desperately for a problem; a feature (of J2ME) which is rushed to market in the hopes that everyone will go ga-ga over it, while the basic cellular service problems go ignored.

Re:Great.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940336)

And there are still those who bitch and moan because they don't have the latest games on their cellphones or the color's a bit off.

And then they bitch because their phone's battery life goes way down because they're always playing games on it.

Re:Great.... (5, Interesting)

nlawalker (804108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940407)

I wish I had a phone that just made calls. It seems that mobile phone companies still have yet to make a phone that can even do that well. I'd love to see a push forward in a more usable interface too... obviously, it's tough to change things such as the stanard telephone key layout, but my newer Nokia phone, for example, has basically the same look and feel as one of the first phones I ever had years ago. Also, the power button is a pain in the ass, the battery cover is very flimsy, and the color screen (of which I really wouldn't care if it was black and white) is difficult to read even in mild sunlight.

Once they make a phone that fixes problems like these and works with the service in a way that I can make and receive good quality calls, THEN I'll be interested in what they have to say about other uses of mobile phones.

Nokia vs. motocrap (1)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940604)

I had an old nokia 8620. Solid phone, had a snake game. It died, and although I had insurance I needed a new phone right away (I was trying to get a job -- which didn't happen). so I ended up signing a new 2 year agreement just to get a free phone immediately.

The thing I have now is loaded with features, but the basic interface is shit. The most annoying thing -- The ringer is to quiet, and I can't set it to ring and vibrate at the same time. I miss calls when I'm listening to loud music, now, that I would have at least felt otherwise. and I miss calls simply from the phone being to quiet. The thing seems to last about a third the time of the nokia on a full charge, and takes 3 times as long to get there.

On the old nokia I could hit the power button to turn on the backlight without popping up the 'the keys are locked' dialog. On this phone, you can't see the display at all without turning on the backlight, day or night, and the keylock warning show up no matter what.

Its like they didn't even have people using this phone for a while before they just tossed it out there. The amount of thought that nokia obviously put into their handset is clear.

OTOH, nokia's design esthetic has just gone way overboard lately.

Re:Great.... (4, Insightful)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940537)

I'm glad I have my cell phone that ... OH YEA! Just makes calls. Who'd have thunk it?

I know, I was like talking to a friend the other day, and he said he saw a computer with "CD-ROM" device attached to it. What's the point in that? Who'd ever need to play music on a computer? All you need is to be able to print letters. Floppy disks ought to be big enough for everyones storage needs.

/sarcasm (circa 1992)

so who do i sue ? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940273)


do i sue the phone manufacturer or my provider for flaws in their product that cause me financial loss ?
perhaps after getting bitchslapped in courts is the only way to teach manufacturers that quality counts and YOU WILL be held responsible if you products are faulty

Re:so who do i sue ? (3, Insightful)

Launch (66938) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940390)

How about the malicious code writer that actually caused your problem. I agree that good OS software should be implimented no matter what device it is running, but let's not let the REAL cuprit slide on this one.

Re:so who do i sue ? (4, Insightful)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940470)

You can't sue anybody. This is a trojan inside a pirated game. The only way it spreads is for you to deliberately install it. There's no way to differentiate it from a piece of legitimate software that sends text messages.

bandwith is not necessary to be annoying (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940274)

"Once we are in the 3G world, we basically have a broadband connection, so phones will be closer to PCs in terms of functionality.

"Having that connectivity historically leads to the spread of viruses."


Once more and more devices run the same OS/software and more and more people are using that same OS/software more and more viruses will be written for it. Bandwith has little to do with it.

SMS' to "premium numbers" are annoying and don't require massive mobile bandwith to work.

Re:bandwith is not necessary to be annoying (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940295)

SMS' to "premium numbers" are annoying and don't require massive mobile bandwith to work.

They do, however, require both the programmable technology to install/run and, in this case, the user to deliberately acknowledge the existence of something installing/running. You have been told. :-)

Re:bandwith is not necessary to be annoying (5, Insightful)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940326)

Not only is bandwidth irrelevant here, this issue has nothing to do with OS/software. The malware is written in mobile java, and uses the standard, OS-independent, interface to the phone hardware itself to send the SMS messages.

Re:bandwith is not necessary to be annoying (2, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940362)

It has nothing to do with software? Yes it surely does. Java-enabled phones run software. Thus OS/software is relevant.

Re:bandwith is not necessary to be annoying (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940417)

Forgive me, I misunderstood your original post. I read you as invoking the standard "OS monoculture" meme when you talked about more and more . In this case, there's no relationship to any OS monoculture, merely to a fixed API on any phone which aupports J2ME. Since the game itself has to be written in something, I don't see how anything beyond having an API to send an SMS has anything to do with this issue?

Re:bandwith is not necessary to be annoying (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940450)

An API isn't software? Forgive me if I'm making you look like a jackass.

Re:bandwith is not necessary to be annoying (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940510)

No, an API isn't software -- it's a specification. Support for or use of an API requires software, usually, but, no, an API is not software.

Sorry that you were unclear on the concept.

Re:bandwith is not necessary to be annoying (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940555)

Ok, so it's a specification, jackass, how are you going to use it to send an SMS? Software.

Re:bandwith is not necessary to be annoying (3, Interesting)

wwest4 (183559) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940347)

The quote seems in line with intuition at least... how would it go - as the bandwidth increases, practical usage will increase, the number of active nodes will increase, and voila a petri dish for more sophisticated viruses. Sure, it's not the only catalyst, but bandwidth seems to have something to do with it.

Not quite as I'd have thought. (5, Interesting)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940289)

According to The Register [theregister.co.uk] , the malware was built into Mosquitos to begin with as a copy protection mechanism. I don't know whether to believe it or not -- if it's true, it's a really clever way of recouping development costs, and puts a new twist on "software that calls home".

Of course, worm writers will still catch on quickly anyway, I'll bet.

Re:Not quite as I'd have thought. (3, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940312)

For most people SMS' will show up on their bill as most people don't do much FREE sending of SMS' (at least here in the states). I think that these people would see their bill go up and find out the reason for it.

Personally, if I were charged for SMS' without my consent I would want to recoup those costs myself as well.

Re:Not quite as I'd have thought. (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940513)

It probably varies from provider to provider, but even free calls, etc show up on my bill - they're just charged at "0.00" and have an "F" beside them. Thus a cursory glance should reveal this sort of thing going on if it does it a lot, especially if it does it at odd times (ie I wouldn't be smsing anyone at 3am on a Tuesday...)

Re:Not quite as I'd have thought. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940447)

It isn't "clever" at all - a lot of commercial software does the same thing over TCP/IP if available. (TeXtures and QuarkXPress for Mac both did this, though one could just unplug eth0 while the app booted...)

The ONLY difference here is that it uses a premium, possible-pay-per-use medium to make the calls and is thus, afaic, not too different from those porno over-seas 900 dialers that were a big deal last year. This is not clever and it is probably illegal under computer abuse acts (sure would be in the US), at least if the SMS "feature" was really a secret as the author was quoted.

Re:Not quite as I'd have thought. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940465)

A virus built into Mosquitos. Is this virus called the West Nile?

Nope - "virus" is a broken anti piracy system (5, Informative)

minator (744625) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940293)

The "virus" is a broken anti piracy system...

Get the full shimmy here [theregister.com] .

Re:Nope - "virus" is a broken anti piracy system (3, Funny)

irokitt (663593) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940420)

So, does anyone have a torrent going yet?

Re:Nope - "virus" is a broken anti piracy system (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940607)

and it is still a virus which should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, it is not legal to make software which detects cracking attempts and harms the user as "punishment"

So? Dont get your software from P2P.... (5, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940296)

First, its not a virus since it cant spread on its own. Its a trojan if its anything. Second, since this only effects people who steal software, why should i care?

Re:So? Dont get your software from P2P.... (0)

Maestro4k (707634) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940320)

  • Second, since this only effects people who steal software, why should i care?
Because it's a sign of things to come. Today it only affects someone who stole some software, tomorrow it affects everyone with a particular model of phone, next month one may hit your phone and cause service disruption.

Just because it doesn't affect you this time doesn't mean you shouldn't care about what's happening.

Re:So? Dont get your software from P2P.... (3, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940375)

"Because it's a sign of things to come. Today it only affects someone who stole some software, tomorrow it affects everyone with a particular model of phone, next month one may hit your phone and cause service disruption."

How? How is this unknown bad software of the future going to get on my phone? I've got a dev license to symbian and so far I've not seen any way for software to spread unchecked. Sure it could get pushed via a SMS message, but the user would have to click through it to install.

Re:So? Dont get your software from P2P.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940438)


Sure it could get pushed via a SMS message, but the user would have to click through it to install.

The same can be said about the majority of Windows malware and look at how successful that malware has been.

Oh, noes! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940530)

You have made the cardinal Slashdot sin of equating "copyright infringement" with "stealing"! Prepare to be bombarded by hordes of Slashbots correcting you! Afterwards, you will be required to report to your nearest LUG for reprogramming. Have a nice day.

The Reg has already debunked this. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940299)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/08/11/mosquitos_ malware_myth/

So stale, so wrong (5, Informative)

Entrope (68843) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940300)

The Register [theregister.co.uk] already dug into the details. The premium-rate calls were not added by a virus or by warez monkeys, but were in the original game as a way to monitor who copied it.

Re:So stale, so wrong (1)

ravydavygravy (230429) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940366)

who to believe? - the BBC article states that the program never sent sms messages to premium rate numbers - it just sent SMS messages back to base if the version being used was unlicensed. This was a feature of the game, not introduced by crackers... Hardly what I'd call a virus...

Re:So stale, so wrong (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940627)

Hardly what I'd call a virus...

I agree, i would call it a trojan rather than a virus

Why is this news (4, Insightful)

Svennig (665498) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940301)

Why is this news?

This is more a user intelligence program than a true threat to the symbian 60 series. If it propogated to all the numbers in a phone book (via SMS for example) then it would be something worth worrying about.

WTH? (2, Insightful)

Joe5678 (135227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940305)

Ok the article that is linked to explicitly says that it does NOT send SMS to premium numbers, only regular SMS messages, and that it does no other damage. So explain to me how this is so very "Destructive"?

Re:WTH? (1)

Tet (2721) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940324)

it does NOT send SMS to premium numbers, only regular SMS messages, and that it does no other damage. So explain to me how this is so very "Destructive"?

Regular SMS messages still cost money. OK, so it's not "destructive", but it's definitely harmful.

Re:WTH? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940328)

Because sending an SMS costs money (sometimes).

Re:WTH? (1)

Joe5678 (135227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940392)

I think maybe a better headline would have been "First Mobile Phone Virus To Cost Money In The Wild"

Except that's not even true, since there have been viruses before that did that.

So I guess that headline should have been "New Destructive Virus, not really destructive or new though"

Correction.... it did NOT SMS premium numbers... (3, Informative)

gambit3 (463693) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940323)

From the article:

The company that made the original legitimate Mosquito game, Ojom, said it had installed the program itself in earlier versions of the game after concerns over piracy.

It was intended that the program secretly send a SMS message to alert them if an unlicensed copy was being used, according to Mr Hypponen.

Not a virus (5, Interesting)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940330)

This is not a virus. It doesn't spread itself. It's simply a trojan that you have to manually download and install by bypassing two security warnings after first having found it on an irreputable site or P2P network. Hardly a threat.

I'm also not sure it deserves to to be called destructive either. It doesn't destruct anything or in any way modify any other services on your phone - it simply sends SMS messages. It would be better classed as "expensive" :)

Re:Not a virus (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940399)

Well, if it racks up enough charges that you can't afford to pay your bill, then your service will be terminated. That's a pretty big modification to you phone services!

Re:Not a virus (2, Funny)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940479)

What about those porn-dialer trojans that call crazy 900 numbers in asia, do you consider those harmless?

Malicious may have been a better word, but "destructive" like most adjectives is pretty much subjective.

If you think about it, malware is destructive if you incur a cost.. Either in time, money or both.

I'd consider this more "destructive" than a virus that, say, wiped out my address book, because that would only 'cost' me about 20 seconds to resync to my PC. This would cost me the many hours and hassles to reverse the charges on my bill. Go ahead and dispute a charge with Verizon or Sprint and see how much fun it is.

They once billed me for a 27 hour call on my cell phone, which was absolutely ridiculous since it's battery is lucky to hold up for 45 minutes and it only uses battery power, even when plugged in.. The manual says its so I wont get electrocuted by mains power, which is equally silly, since it charges from a wall-wart that delivers a whole 300ma at 12V. Truly a piece of craptastic engineering.

Where was I? Oh yeah, cell tech sucks and I've yet to complete a conversation without the call being dropped. "Can you hear me now" my ass.

Re:Not a virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940585)

Maybe if you took your tinfoil hat off, you'd get better cell reception.

That is why... (3, Insightful)

Space_Soldier (628825) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940332)

... a phone needs to be just a bloody phone.

Re:That is why... (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940423)

I agree, I hate that I have an address book (not just numbers), calculator, calendar, notes and to-do list in my phone... it just makes things so convenient! (I shan't even mention the conversion app that allows me to talk to non-metricated types...)

Same with a horse and carriage - I refuse to travel in these ungodly horseless contraptions...

Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940547)

...how many of your "Anytime Minutes" (or whatever) are lost because your color screen, camera, MP3 player, DVD player, and electric can opener drained your battery?

Re:That is why... (2, Interesting)

Launch (66938) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940432)

Product integration is a great idea. I'm happy my phone has a digital camera in it, I'm happy I can sync it to outlook. Both my PDA and Digital camera are factors of 10 better than the tools on my moto V400.... but when I'm steping out of the house it's nice to not have to gear down unnessicarly.

A phone needs to be just everything it can possibly be.

Re:That is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940563)

... a phone needs to be just a bloody phone.

i just want my phone to be able to make calls, not something to bludgeon someone with...

mod parent -1, Luddite (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940577)

and a computer should only be an unsigned integer adding machine god damn it!

clarifications (5, Informative)

YouTalkinToMe (559217) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940333)

Some clarifications, for those who don't read the article:

1. It was not a virus. A pirated version of a game included malware that SMS'd a phone number without the users permission.

2. The malware was not added by the people who pirated the game. Interestingly, it was an intended feature of the game, included by the company.

3. The original intent of the malware was to secretly "phone home" when a pirated version of the game was being played. Because of complaints, they removed this "feature" from later versions. The pirated version was old, and still includes the "feature".

What I find interesting is that they included such a "feature" to begin with.

Re:clarifications (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940427)

strangely enough, I cut and pasted parts (ahem) of the original article I read. I didn't add much myself. The BBC article has since been updated.

So, in this case, you can't read the article :)

Re:clarifications (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940508)

I find it possibly illegal they could include this feature. Where's this company based?

I mean, if Doom 3 started calling 1-900 numbers because I had to crack it since the braindead copy protection won't let me play my original copy, I'd personally hunt Carmack down and string him up. Unless he GPL'ed the source code, of course, which would make it inherently "good".

Not true, actually copy protection mechanism (0, Redundant)

lonely (32990) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940335)


See the reg:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/08/11/mosquito s_ malware_myth/

Move along nothing to see here!

This raises a lot of questions.. (1)

QuijiboIsAWord (715586) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940337)

When will be McAffe be releasing SuperPhoneShield v1.0 for this newly discovered market?

Will we soon have to have firewalls for our phones?

This Isn't Malware, It's Copy Protection! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940339)

This wasn't actually included in "an adapted copy", as it originates directly from the legitimate copy of the game, as described in the following article.

Mosquitos smartphone 'Trojan' there by design (Register)
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/08/1 1/mosquitos_ malware_myth/

My mobile has a virus.. (3, Funny)

grunt107 (739510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940341)

This virus causes 1-900 numbers to be dialed and connected for more than 1 minute (sometimes as long as 2 minutes).

There by design ... (5, Informative)

PReDiToR (687141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940348)

From The Register [theregister.co.uk] .

Mosquitos smartphone 'Trojan' there by design
By John Leyden [theregister.co.uk]
Published Wednesday 11th August 2004 13:31GMT
The Mosquitos Symbian dialler Trojan is not really a Trojan horse after all.

Many news outlets [google.com] , including ourselves [theregister.co.uk] , reported that a trojanised version of Mosquitos game for Symbian Series 60 smartphones was circulating online [google.com] and across P2P networks. Cracked versions of the game secretly sends SMS messages to premium rate numbers, according to reports on various online forums [geekzone.co.nz] .

Illegal copies of the game display the following message on start-up: This version has been cracked by SODDOM BIN LOADER No rights reserved. Pirate copies are illegal and offenders will have lotz of phun!!!

Yesterday Symbian put out a statement [symbian.com] which contributed to the impression that malign code was inserted into 'cracked' versions of the game by members of the computer underground. However it turns out that the hidden SMS functionality, along with a message written in the best vernacular VXer speak, was put in the game from the beginning by the original games publisher Ojom.

In an advisory [f-secure.com] , AV firm F-Secure explains: This functionality was intended to be a copy-protecting technique - it didn't work as planned and the whole functionality backfired.

The premium rate contracts for the phone numbers have been terminated, so although old versions of the game still send hidden SMS messages, it only costs the nominal fee of sending the message itself. Current versions of this game no longer have this hidden functionality, but 'cracked' versions of Mosquitos still float in P2P network - and they still send these messages, it adds.

So what appeared to be a Trojan is actually a rather sneaky and somewhat ineffective copy-protection technique. Proof that even if something looks like a duck, talks like a duck and walks like a duck it isn't necessarily Anas platyrhynchos.

Although the Mosquitos saga turns out to be an urban myth, the recent discovery [theregister.co.uk] of the first malware capable of infecting smartphones shatters the comforting belief the mobile phones are safe from viral infection. The threat is very low at present but shouldn't be completely discounted. ®

"Destructive"? (3, Informative)

Samurai Cat! (15315) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940354)

Nowhere in the article is that term used. And the description of the virus doesn't sound like it causes "damage" at all. The submitter's info leads one to believe the phones are made unusable.

Editors, please edit before posting these stories. :)

Re:"Destructive"? (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940483)

The damage is to your wallet. Then again, if you are installing pirated software, you might just deserve the damage.

good (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940361)

cel phones are for communications, not for playing games.

Welcome to the 21st Century (5, Insightful)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940364)

As much of a technophile as I am, I'm starting to see a disturbing trend in technology...nifty new technology that's supposed to make your life more convenient (TiVO, VoIP, multi-function cell phones) almost always end up having problems, and end up creating a lot of stress and headache (although whether this negates the device's 'usefulness' is debatable, obviously). We've had telephones for quite a while now, same thing with cars, TV, etc, but all of a sudden there are troubleshooting prodecures for everything.

I don't want to live in a world where I have to download patches and updates for my phone, TV, cell phone, alarmclock, bathroom scale, toaster, fridge, etc, every other week, or worry about them charging me money or disclosing private information. Some things work just great already and don't need all sorts of crazy upgrading, networking, or convergence. If you had a portable game thingy (not connected to any network) to play 'Mosquitoes', you wouldn't have to worry about this!

Meh. Does this surprise anyone? (1)

SeanDuggan (732224) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940370)

Honestly, after they release a news story detailing a virus and how it spread, how long did they expect it to take for someone to attach a damaging payload? *wry grin* It's that dual problem that if you report details of the threat, someone's bound to use them, but if you don't list details, people may not know how to protect themselves. Still, you'd think they'd give the phone companies some lead time to plug holes before releasing it in public back when it was still a fairly innocent payload. If I were more paranoid, I might wonder if they didn't announce it knowing that it would create more news that way.

Applications can access all phone functions? (5, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940376)

Does allowing an application to send a text message strike people as being a pretty bad design decision?

Phone applications/games should not be able to access any function that might cost the user money. Or if they do, then the OS itself should intercept and ask the user if they wish to allow the application to send the SMS / phone call / data call. "PsychoSolitaire wishes to send a message to +XX.YYYYYYYYY. This will cost £x. Yes/No/Never"

That is just sensible and obvious design.

Re:Applications can access all phone functions? (1)

Knights who say 'INT (708612) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940436)

My el-cheapo Nokia 1800 does that. Then again, it's very simple, but it has an option so that no money-costing message ever gets sent without double confirmation.

Re:Applications can access all phone functions? (1)

DaHat (247651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940621)

No. If I run software on my phone I want it to be able to have access to any features of the phone.

Your logic of blocking is not unlike saying "Modern operating systems shouldn't allow an application to dial a 900 or long distance number with out the user giving permission"

This is a fine idea in theory, but creates an unnecessary burden for the software user. Of course... there is nothing to stop a software programmer from automatically clicking the yes button of the OS generated dialog box as some applications already do to circumvent built in security methods.

Slashdot vs. Article (5, Funny)

DynamicBits (542509) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940381)

Slashdot:
"First Destructive Mobile Phone Virus In The Wild"
"...a hidden program sends SMS texts to premium rate numbers."

Article:
"...text messages will still be sent, although not at premium rates."
"Mosquito's Trojan does not do any other damage..."

Does anyone verify that the slashdot article actually represents the real article?

Re:Slashdot vs. Article (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940410)

It sends to premium rate numbers, those numbers have been terminated, so at present it sends at the regular rates, which so far as I'm concerned, are premium enough.

If jacking your mobile bill 100 bucks a month isn't "destructive" enough for you, then, there's nothing I can do about that.

Re:Slashdot vs. Article (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940503)

Perhaps one would learn quickly not to pirate software if that happened more often

Re:Slashdot vs. Article (2, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940434)

Article:
"...text messages will still be sent, although not at premium rates."
"Mosquito's Trojan does not do any other damage..."


Most people I know here the US do not have unlimited SMS plans. Most people don't know much about text messaging at all. So these people would be sending SMS messages out and being billed for it regardless of the numbers being "premium rate" or not.

Thus it does do damage as your bill goes up that month.

Re:Slashdot vs. Article (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940639)

Does anyone verify that the slashdot article actually represents the real article?

Yes, if by represent you mean "vaguely resembles" and by real you mean "lunatic interperatation inside some readers head". But the slashdot headline grabs your attention better than the more accurate "'Game virus' bites mobile phones" title that the BBC used I suppose.

Who says it's a failed system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940398)

If the game development company included this "call home" function in order to catch people using pirated copies and only pirated copies are being infected does it not stand to reason that the game company is getting what they want ie. the decreased usage of pirated versions. It may just be their system in action.

RTFA (5, Informative)

sploo22 (748838) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940419)

The submitter DID NOT read the article AT ALL, and apparenty neither did the editors.

First of all, it specifically says that the phone DOES NOT text premium numbers. The problem is NOT a virus; it's not even really a trojan. It's a feature that "calls home" in case it's an unlicensed copy. Not only that, the feature was removed in later versions; the cracked version was older. They got what they deserved.

And that's why... (4, Funny)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940425)

I'm still using my telegraph.

Clickity-click-click!

Re:And that's why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940437)

Awesome

Cell Phone viruses (4, Insightful)

!Squalus (258239) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940453)

How droll. As a former AV employee, I wonder just how the hell you are supposed to run AV on something meant for phone calls? This stupidity will never end. Next,, you will need that really cool 3D screen and a better graphics card, and then a patch for that virus, and then a controller, and a patch for that virus....

Just yesterday I saw an article that said Open Source wasn't ready for Antivirus software. Well - duh! It isn't all that necessary - yet. Most viruses are ineffective on Linux/Unix/BSD/OS/X because of FHS standards, rights and permissions.

Cell phones that play games are about as useful as the teats on a boar hog (and that is a colloquialism). It's the same old game - sell them a useless but "neat" feature that violates sensible security and then sell them a patch to correct that stupidity that they have to buy and buy and buy.

If you spend your money that way - it's your choice really, now isn't it?

Re:Cell Phone viruses (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940525)

You got it. Have you seen the size of some of these bloated , so called, phones? Might as well go back to the bricks of 15 years ago. Anyone who thinks a phone is a good replacement for a laptop (that is where this is headed) or PDA is a fool. The dinky little screen will never cut it.

Re:Cell Phone viruses (1)

RU_Areo (804621) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940602)

I whole heartedly agree. Cell phones have become so ridiculously engrained in modern day society, it is a wonder the people before us, who built the cell phone companies were able to get along without them. a cell phone is (or at least should be) a phone, all the rest is waste of time and money. Not to sound regressive, but everything has it's function.

Redundant. (1)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940475)

i know i (you) have heard it many times: network it and it'll never be 100% secure.

This on the tail of the viop spam-fest looming; yeah, fun times ahead for phones. i can't wait for the convoluted, mostly-useless, loophole-for-biz laws that will follow all of this once lawmaker's underlings get wind of it.(you don't really believe most lawmakers have a clue about the tech-laws they pass do you?)

bah! i need a firewall for my phone now as well!!?? heh, i'm sure there'll be plenty of money made for lots of parties that aren't me and my phone(s) :(

And yes, it's alread been pointed out, the massive errors in the /. post about this, but i felt the need to bitch a little (it is /. you know! ;-)

viop? (1)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940500)

heh, yeah, that's new to me too...make that voip ;-) i need my coffee dammit!

...which i just got up and made durring mah 2 min repost wait! heh.

Hmm... looks like someone didn't read article 1st. (5, Informative)

digital photo (635872) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940482)

Well, either the original article was changed or the article poster didn't really read the article to being with. :( In either case, that's kinda sad.

  • Trojan, not virus.
  • No destruction ensues.
  • Not premium numbers.
  • Trojan was not added by crackers or even a malicious writer, but was an anti-piracy feature.

Though I'd thought that the crackers would have spotted their cracked software doing something unintended...

Interesteding historical tidbit... the Pakistani Brain virus was written with a similar anti-piracy intent in mind. Though that was a virus and spread destructively. This is just a trojan which is annoying.

If a writer really wanted to be destructive, they would have overwritten the Symbian OS boot code and firmware loading codes and executed a phone reboot. (nevermind the sim card and access to other data cards inserted into the phone)

Kinda makes me reconsider getting a more powerful phone... :(

I hope we see more of these. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940487)

Maybe it will convince someone that there is a market for cell phones that actually let you send and receive calls.

Attention all Orange customers (3, Informative)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940524)

I advise you to turn off automatic MMS download if you have not already done so.

Orange sends crap to your phone such as trailers for Catwoman.

The "do not download if bigger than x kb" defaults to 100k but Orange will send 99.9Kb files to bypass this.

Once again the best thing is to deactivate automatic downloads of messages.

Out of date already. (2, Informative)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940580)


The Reg has the correct story [theregister.co.uk] . In short, it was deliberately done by the developers of Mosquito as a crappy kind of copy protection: copy our software and we'll send SMS messages to premium rate numbers. Now someone tell me this isn't illegal...

Destructive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9940646)

The crack Slashdot editors are smoking is "destructive" to their brains.

Did any of you morons actually read this before posting the headline?

Can't Wait (1)

icekillis (777986) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940668)

Oh! I can't wait until I download McCafee for my mobile phone. Maybe soon they will offer an antivirus for my MSN DIRECT SPOT Watch!

I am surprised.... (1)

Hits_B (711969) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940671)

that no one on /. has figured out a way to blame this on Microsoft.

Poor design. (3, Insightful)

emeitner (513842) | more than 10 years ago | (#9940674)

They should never allow user software to access the dialing functions. Maybe there needs to be a user/OS partition in the phone so that untrusted software has to run in a small sandbox. The last thing we need is some malware disguised as a cute toy DOSing 911 numbers on a specific day.
It would be simple to have a popup dialog that would ask the user if they want to allow the app to dial a number.
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