Cell Phones, PDAs Under Attack By New Worm

The worm, called Cabir, has been detected by security experts, who issued an alert concerning the threat on Tuesday.

Cabir spreads in a file called Caribe.sis and propagates across devices running the Symbian operating system, according to security firm PandaLabs, Glendale, Calif.

The Symbian OS is used in PDAs and many cell phones, including those manufactured by Nokia, Siemens and Sony Ericsson.

Cabir is something of a test balloon, apparently aimed at demonstrating that the rapid maturation of mobile devices has now made them vulnerable to hacker attacks.

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"The creators of Cabir haven't designed the worm to propagate massively, but have used it as a trial to demonstrate that these kinds of devices can be infected by malicious code," representatives of PandaLabs said in a statement.

Cabir installs itself automatically on a mobile device when a user accepts a transmission displaying the text message "Caribe." The worm then begins a continuous search specifically for Bluetooth-connected wireless devices to send itself to. The battery life of the initially infected device is severely reduced during this process.

"It was foreseeable that Cabir would appear. This is another consequence of the spectacular advances made in mobile communication technology in recent years. This particular case is just a trial but could open the door to new viruses, which could become a serious blight for cell phone users," said Luis Corrons, head of PandaLabs, in a statement.

More information about Cabir can be found at Panda's Web site.