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.