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News  General

China leapfrogs the US in mobile phone shipments

China outsold the U.S. in smartphones in the second half of last year, helped by carrier subsidies and the proliferation of the sub-$200 Android segment. The growing Chinese demand for smartphones, while a good sign for handset makers, also bodes well for Chinese telecom companies such as China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.

However, such a massive target is bound to attract the attention of the bad guys writing malware - and analysts are warning of a new kind of massively coordinated attack in which infected devices coorperate, such as launching DDOS attacks on demand. With a smaller pool of compromised devices, these would prove ineffective, but users are now being warned of the effects these kinds of attacks could have when given the huge numbers involved.

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June 14, 2004: First mobile phone virus discovered

No infections have been reported and the worm is harmless, but it is the first known working proof that mobiles are at risk from virus writers. The worm, known as Cabir, infects phones and devices running the Symbian operating system. When launched, the worm seeks out available Bluetooth devices and sends itself to them in the format of an .SIS file called caribe.sis. 

The worm was not sent out into the wild, but sent directly to anti-virus firms, who believe Cabir in its current state is harmless. However, it does prove that mobile phones are also at risk from virus writers. Experts also believe that the worm was developed by a group who call themselves 29A, a group of international hackers, as a "proof of concept" worm in order to catch world attention.

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Mobile phone thief

Mobile robbery on the increase

If you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who already own a smartphone, you understand the tremendous value delivered by these mobile marvels – whether it’s helping you get work done on-the-go, keeping you connected to friends and family, or delivering news and entertainment. Unfortunately, criminals also recognize their value, and smartphone theft has become the fastest rising crime in U.S. cities.

In major cities a significant amount of robberies now involve cell phones, endangering both the physical safety of victims and the safety of personal information on stolen devices.

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Prevention is better than cure


From a functional point of view, there isn't much difference between cell phone viruses and computer viruses. Like any other computer virus, the cell virus is an executable file, which after attacking a device, often tries to copy itself with another program, then another and so on.

The bad news is that recently the rate of cell phone malware spread is increasing alarmingly. Almost all these viruses are prone to attack the most popular mobile OS on the market.

It is also possible for hackers to use similar vulnerabilities to spy on smartphone users, recording calls and text messages, for example to steal banking information. There are several companies that sell such services to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including Andover-based Gamma Group International.