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Android virus

A decade after Cabir infected Symbian handsets

Everyone nowadays is (or should be!) as cautious when it comes to installing new apps in their smartphones as they are when it comes to installing software to their PCs. However, this wasn't always the case. Those with long memories might remember the days when the term "smartphone" itself was new, and those which could even connect to the internet were few and far between.

Downloadable software

It didn't take the bad guys long to figure out these new devices could run malware - and the users would be virtually powerless to guard against it at that time since there was no such thing as as smartphone virus. Cabir, aimed at Nokia Series 60 Symbian handsets, spread via Bluetooth. It was capable of infecting any similar device which came within range - in fact the biggest outbreak was during the Helsinki Athletics World Cup.

Cabir was actually harmless. Or was it?

Also known as Caribe, Symbian/Cabir, SybmOS/Cabire, Corbonite/Cabir and EPOC Cabir, all it actually did was show the word "Caribe" on the screen and attempt to infect other devices it found. However, its success demonstrated the feasibility of such software which led the way to future, much more sophisticated malware.

Smartphone Virus cabir

The Symbian OS was the king of the hill for 10 years. Its SIS installable format was the equivalent of Androids APK, but back in the day there wasn't really the same concept as a central app store - users had to resort to arcane delivery methods such as sending a few premium SMS messages etc. Up until then everyone was happy just downloading wallpapers and ringtones, which couldn't carry viruses, so the field became wide open as naive users treat apps the same way.

Now Android is the bigget target

Cabir was discovered on June 15, 2004. Since then, the number of threats and malware on smartphones has rocketed. At the time, Alfred Huger, senior director of engineering for Symantec's security response team, said "The virus represents a wake-up call. Just because this one isn't dangerous doesn't mean the next one won't be." How true he was - according to Kaspersky, "99% of all smartphone viruses are aimed at Android".

Read more on Cabir...