Zombie virus infects mobile phones in China
BEIJING, Nov. 9 (Xinhuanet) — Zombies not only appear in movies. They might also “bite” your cell phone due to a nasty finger tap.
In the first week of September, about 1 million cell phones in China were found to have been affected by a new virus, one that spreads quickly by random and mass sending of text messages, according to State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).
A cell phone user in Henan province told CCTV that a telecom carrier had recently charged him short messaging service (SMS) fees although, he said, he had not sent a single message.
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“The payment list showed that I had sent messages to my friends at mid-night and even some to other phone numbers which I didn’t know,” he said. “How could I send messages to them at such a late time?”
Another user in Beijing had the same problem. She said she had received late-night messages from her friends in which they recommended games to her, CCTV reported.
Cell phone professionals found that a virus binding with a security software program was the cause of the random message sending.
The virus affects cell phones as users download and install the software. An affected phone will copy and send the information of the subscriber identity module (SIM) card to a hacker-controlled server. Then the hacker can make the cell phone send messages with any content to any phone numbers.
The virus is very aggressive and the links in the messages ensure its spread. Once a user gets the message and clicks the links, his or her phone will be infected and will attack other phones, CCTV said.
“We can compare an infected cell phone to a ‘zombie’ phone. It will secretly send virus-linked text messages to your friends and colleagues and turn their phones into ‘zombies’, which will later create more ‘zombie’ phones,” Zou Shihong, a telecom expert at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, was quoted as saying.
CCTV reported that the National Computer Network Emergency Coordination Center (NCNECC) has noticed the spread of the virus and said it had become a big problem for the mobile network.
“Through our supervision, we found that in the first week of September nearly 1 million cell phones in the country were infected with the virus,” Zhou Yonglin, a NCNECC official, said.
It is hard to tell if software provided online carries a virus or not without professional tools. An open Internet environment may allow any free software to bind with a virus, so it is difficult to trace the source of the virus, experts warned.
CCTV said intermediary distributors might be blamed for the spread of the virus because most of those text messages are software and game ads.
Industry insiders said distributors will make 10 times more profit if they implant a “zombie” virus in messages than they would with traditional mass sending. And the virus will cost the 1 million infected phone users more than 2 million yuan ($300,000) every day, according to the report.
An updated virus may now make an infected phone send fewer messages at a time, and it will be less likely to be noticed by both cell phone users and telecom carriers, Zou said.Although telecom carriers have taken measures to filter or head off virus-infected messages, many updated or new viruses have emerged, the report said.
Boost Mobile Samsung Seek Phone Black ColorAn updated virus may now make an infected phone send fewer messages at a time, and it will be less likely to be noticed by both cell phone users and telecom carriers, Zou said.
More than 1,600 kinds of cell phone viruses and malicious software were detected in the first half of this year, the latest statistics showed.