Teen Arrested for Obscene Mobile Spam

Gretchen Gallen
MOSCOW – In one of the first arrests of a mobile spammer, a Russian teen was sentenced this week for sending "obscene" text messages to 15,000 cellphone users.

The teen, who remains unnamed by Russian authorities, is a student from the Urals City of Chelyabinsk and was known among school colleagues as a computer "whiz kid."

While authorities would not reveal the exact nature of the mobile spam the teen is accused of sending, he reportedly accessed the cellphone numbers by hacking into one of Russian's largest mobile phone operators. From there he was able to access thousands of cellphone numbers.

The teen was given a one-year suspended sentence. He was also fined the equivalent of $100 by the court.

While Russia has lately revealed itself to be a hotbed of young, destructive computer programmers with a penchant for writing viruses and hacking into government databases, this week's mobile spam case is the first time in history that a Russian has been convicted for sending spam, according to authorities.

In early June, Russian antivirus company Kaspersky Labs Ltd. reported discovering the first-ever computer virus capable of spreading over mobile phone networks. The virus infects cellphones running Symbian OS, although so far, the virus, called Cabir, does not seem to have caused any security incidents.

Kaspersky Labs believes that the worm was probably created by a virus writer going under the name of Vallez.

According to Kaspersky Labs, Cabir is transmitted as an SIS file (a Symbian distribution file), but the file is disguised as Caribe Security Manager utility, part of telephone security software. The worm penetrates the phone system and is activated each time the phone is started. Cabir scans for all accessible phones using Bluetooth technology and sends a copy of itself to the first one found.