New virus found in phone messaging
'Commwarrior.A' is a virus designed to spread through multimedia messages and drain phone batteries.
HELSINKI, Finland (Reuters) - A new mobile phone software virus started spreading this week via messages containing photos and sounds, the first of its kind and a threat to cellphones globally, data security firms said Tuesday.
The Commwarrior.A virus tries to replicate itself by sending multimedia messages to people on the phone's contacts list, and also tries to do the same via Bluetooth wireless connections with other devices, eventually draining the battery.
Unlike computer viruses that spread quickly around the world via the Internet, mobile phone viruses have previously been limited by technology.
Cabir, the world's first mobile phone virus "in the wild," has spread to only 16 countries in 6 months using Bluetooth connections.
But Commwarrior.A tries to send variously named multimedia messages (MMS) to phones running the popular Series 60 phone operating software by Symbian, security software maker Symantec said in a statement.
If the user does not click and download the message the virus will not spread.
"I do not think this particular virus will be a big problem, but it is the beginning of a new era," said Mikko Hypponen, director of Finnish anti-virus research company F-Secure.
"It's revolutionary as all previous mobile viruses have been spreading either with some other software or only within a limited area, using Bluetooth," he said.
Hypponen said the first indications suggested the virus originated in Russia.
The mobile virus threat is seen as growing as software writers become more sophisticated and phones use standardized technologies that make it easier for viruses to spread across not just specific devices but the whole industry.
The world's largest mobile phone maker Nokia (Research), which controls 48-percent of Symbian, said the mobile phone industry is ready for mobile viruses and can draw upon the lessons seen in the personal computer world.
"In general, (the finding) is not a surprise to anyone in the industry," said Nokia spokesman Pekka Isosomppi. "We can benefit from the experiences of the PC world ... we can use the 20-30 year virus history in PCs."
Isosomppi and Hypponen also said that mobile operators should be able to stop a wider virus outbreak by screening for suspicious files.