Mobile Phone Virus Hits United States

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Cabir, the first mobile phone virus to be released into the public arena, has now spread from the Philippines – where it was created – into the United States.

Putting 1.5 billion worldwide mobile phone users at risk of infection, the virus has mutated into 15 variations so far, spreading across twelve countries from China to Britain since its release eight months ago –signaling the beginning of a new era in which mobile communication devices are targeted for attack.

While the most severe consequence of the virus is the draining of an infected device's batteries, the ease of infection, which occurs via the increasingly prevalent "Bluetooth" wireless technology, makes the threat a serious concern for security experts.

While this method of attack is limited in its speed and penetration due to the relatively short distances over which Bluetooth devices operate, as opposed to the speed and distance at which computer viruses propagate over the Internet, infected devices can spread the virus merely by being in close proximity to other Bluetooth enabled devices.

The spread of Cabir into different countries typically requires that an infected device be physically carried by its user from one country to another.

The infection was first found in a retail outlet, where it was seen to spread to other devices, including the store manager's personal phone. The infected devices were made by Nokia, and while the specific brand is thought to be no more vulnerable than other brands, several features of current generation smart phones cause them to be more susceptible to attack than traditional 'voice only' mobile phones.

While some manufacturers have begun adding anti-virus software to their new mobile phones and other devices, the threat of infection will increase as mobile technologies become increasingly standardized and virus writers become ever more sophisticated in their approaches.