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19 Jul 2004

Science fiction novel inspires first ever Pocket PC virus, Sophos reports

Dear User, am I allowed to spread?PDA users need not panic as virus is not in the wild

Virus researchers at Sophos have reported the discovery over the weekend of the first ever virus to infect the Microsoft Pocket PC operating system.

The W32/Duts-A virus infects PDAs running the Pocket PC operating system, and was written by the 29A virus writing gang who also recently wrote the world's first mobile phone virus.

The Duts virus does not travel via email, and requires users to deliberately send it to other Pocket PC PDA owners. If the infected file is run it displays a message:

"WinCE4.Dust by Ratter/29A"
"Dear User, am I allowed to spread?"

Only if the user agrees will it attempt to infect other executable programs on the user's PDA.

"Duts is a 'proof-of-concept' virus, and will not spread in the wild. You're more likely to have a meteorite strike your house than be hit by this virus," said Carole Theriault, security consultant for Sophos. "Owners of PDAs running the Pocket PC operating system should not lose any sleep over this virus, although it might be a taste of things to come in the future."

The virus contains two messages which do not get displayed:

"This is proof of concept code. Also, i wanted to make avers happy. The situation when Pocket PC antiviruses detect only EICAR file had to end ..."

and

"This code arose from the dust of Permutation City"

Permutation City is a novel by science fiction author Greg Egan. Set in the year 2050 it features a character obsessed with artificial life who generates computer personalities (known as "Copies") within a virtual world. The novel has obvious parallels with computer viruses.

"This virus claims to be written by the Czech virus writer known as 'Ratter' from the 29A virus writing gang," continued Theriault. "If Ratter is ever investigated by the authorities it seems likely that he will prove to be a sci-fi fanatic."

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.