The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

With mobile phones having become more and more computer-like over the years, it was a given that the handsets would become targets of malicious code. So the discovery of the Cabir/Caribe mobile phone-system virus should come as no surprise.

However, how accurate is the claim of this being the first phone virus program? I'm almost positive that's not the case. I recall reading about some sort of virus, or virus-like program, that hit Japanese mobile phones a couple of years ago. They caused the phones to automatically dial random numbers, and I think propagated through phone-to-phone email. So I'm betting this Cabir is far from the first instance of phone infection.

I thought that, somehow, phone operating systems were immune from virus-type threats? Something to do with a "sandbox" restriction on their programmable capabilities. Maybe that's not the case, or perhaps Bluetooth enabling, which is how Carib spreads, somehow overrides that.

I guess we can look forward to story after story about virus-hijacked phones running up thousands of dollars of charges, leading to a mass exodus away from cutting-edge mobiles and back to "dumb" phones. Or perhaps all the way back to smoke signals--completely virus-resistant! (Unless you count a stray breeze...)