Suspected mobile phone virus author arrested

June 25, 2007 Sophos Press Release

Mobile phone
The worms were designed to infect mobile phones running the Symbian operating system.

Experts at Sophos, a world leader in IT security and control, have welcomed news that Spanish authorities have arrested a man suspected of writing and distributing a mobile phone virus.

According to a statement issued by Spanish police, a 28-year-old man was arrested in Valencia following a seven month investigation. The man, who has not been named, is accused of creating and spreading over 20 different variants of the Cabir and Commwarrior worms, which attempt to infect mobile phones running the Symbian operating system.

Embedded inside the worms alleged to have been written by the man are references to "Leslie", which is said to be the name of the suspect's fiancee.

Spanish police claim that as many as 115,000 mobile phones may have been struck by the malware.

"Cellphone viruses are not as common as the malware which strikes Windows desktops on a regular basis, but it is just as illegal in its intent. Viruses are not harmless pranks; they cause real harm disrupting business and personal communications as well as destroying and stealing sensitive data," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The computer crime authorities around the globe are becoming more experienced at tracking down hackers and virus writers, and malware authors should be asking themselves whether it's really worth taking the risk."

In a Sophos survey conducted earlier this year, 81 percent of business IT administrators expressed concern that malware and spyware targeting mobile devices will become a significant threat in the future. However, 64 percent also said they currently have no solution in place to secure company smartphones and PDAs.*

* Source: Sophos online poll, 612 respondents, November 2006 and 373 respondents, January 2007.