Security experts uncover first ever SMS virus

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Security experts uncover first ever SMS virus

Finnish anti-malware firm F-Secure is predicting that SMS-generated mobile spam will be a major problem in the future.

The company's Q1 2009 Security Threat Summary charted the first ever SMS virus, and a rise in social networking exploits during the first quarter of 2009.

F-Secure described the SymbOS/Yxe worm as the most significant threat to emerge over the period. Although mainly confined to China, the potential remains for similar attacks elsewhere around the world.

The worm spreads by sending an SMS promising a 'sexy view', with links to a malicious site prompting the user to download the malware. It will then use the victim's contact list to spread.

"Sexy View is the first text message worm ever. It's also the first mobile phone worm that circumvents the signature checks that are meant to secure the latest smartphones," said F-Secure chief research officer Mikko Hypponen.

"And the motive behind it seems to be to collect information for mobile phone spamming purposes. Mobile phone spam is already a big problem in some parts of the world, and eventually it will be an issue everywhere."

Meanwhile, social networking sites have become an increasingly attractive target for online fraudsters, as the number of users grows ever larger, warned F-Secure.

"When you get a message via Facebook from a friend, you tend to trust the message to be real," said Hypponen. "And when people follow a 'funny link' to a video and are prompted to 'update' their player, they easily fall for these attacks."

F-Secure highlighted the Koobface worm, which spreads through Facebook stealing user credentials, as one of the most high-profile threats over the period.

The first quarter of 2009 was also dominated by Conficker. The malware's complex code and sophisticated understanding of how to subvert security software is a sign of things to come, according to F-Secure.

Security firms warned today that Conficker may be about to launch a major attack.

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