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Mobile Phones

The expanded functionality of all mobile devices has also seemed to make them susceptible to all forms of attacks. Smart phones, which are cell phones that have some of the functionality of PDAs, can also be vulnerable to viruses. In June of 2000, Timofonica, a variant of the LoveLetter virus, spammed thousands of mobile phone owners in Spain. The virus routed mails through an Internet-to-cellular gateway. Virus hunters found themselves confronted with what might have been the first attempt to infect mobile phones. Somebody calling himself Timofonica—timo is Spanish for prank—sent a Short Messaging Service (SMS) message to a small number of subscribers to Spanish giant Telefonica's mobile phone network telling them that the company was ripping them off. Timofonica was relatively benign: Mobile phones can't run executable programs yet, so the virus couldn't replicate itself. However, many took this as a sign that mobile phones too, can be become targets of attack. Up to this point, mobile phones had been virus free.

Timofonica was a Visual Basic (.vbs) worm that used the Windows scripting host to infect the PC. For each address that Timofonica found in Microsoft Outlook, the worm then generated a random e-mail address for cellular phone users of MoviStar.net, a Spanish wireless e-mail provider. If the user clicked on the attached .vbs file, it became infected, and the worm then destroyed the user's CMOS settings the next time the machine rebooted. The majority of text in the e-mail message was in Spanish; however, the second part of the text was various links to Web sites that listed Spain's telecommunication policies. Although administrators are not sure where the worm originated, it is assumed that it was created in protest against the phone monopoly in Spain.


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