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  (Source: Rama's Screen)
Over 1 million citizens cell phones are infected, sending out costly deluge of texts

Some might have scoffed at our story yesterday on AVG's acquisition of Android OS antivirus company DroidSecurity.  Antivirus, on a cell phone?  The notion sounds laughable, as there haven't been many viral attacks on cell phones to date.

Of course, as China is finding out, cell phones are just like any other computer -- with memory, a processor, and the potential to run applications.  A virus is sweeping across China's smartphones and has effected 1 million thus far, transforming them into text message spam zombies.

The attack was first reported by the Chinese news site 
ShanghaiDaily.

The virus affects users of Symbian, the world's most used smartphone OS.  The virus is similar in some regards to the Troj/SymbSms-A malware that struck Russian smartphones earlier this year.  A variant of that virus also was used to attack Android smartphones, posing as a media player.

Unlike the Russian attack whose goal was to text premium messaging services (such as sexting services), the key goal of this malware is to send spam ads.  The user is infected when they click on a link to install a fake antivirus program on their phone.

After the phone is infected, it broadcasts the users' SIM information to the hackers servers.  The hackers then access the user's address book and send out pay-per-click ads, whose links, when clicked, also infect the receiving user's cell phone.

The zombie hypertexting cell-phones are costing Chinese customers a reported 2 million yuan ($300,000 USD) a day.  Meanwhile the hackers are piling up profit from click revenue.

Government officials with China's National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Center are struggling to figure out the origins of the virus.  The malicious program appears to be the clone of a legitimate one produced by Sichuan Province-based Chendu Qimiao.

And the zombie virus itself seems remarkably well designed in that it has evaded most legitimate antivirus programs available to users.  Thus far there is no widely publicized solution for infected users -- other than to perhaps turn off their phones.





"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs
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