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article imageCellphone Spam and Viruses Spark Concern

By David Silverberg     Nov 8, 2006 in Technology
Digital Journal — As if email spam and viruses weren’t already frustrating us beyond belief, now cellphone users (basically, everyone under 60) are facing increasing threats of “mobile sabotage.”
The ever-popular cellphone is becoming more vulnerable as it is under attack by both spam and virus-like worms. Spammers use text messages to trick users into disclosing personal info, reports The Wall Street Journal. Spyware can also be sneakily downloaded to a phone so scammers can listen into conversations.
Don’t freak out yet. Symantec says there are more than 600 computer viruses for every known mobile virus, yet software companies are already taking steps to allay any fears. They realize an annoying spam text message can begin to annoy cellphone owners who thought their hip-hugging gadget was safe from e-scams.
Symantec last week launched its mobile anti-virus software for products running the Windows Mobile OS. It can quarantine suspicious messages and scan files in the background. And last month, McAfee expanded its mobile software package so it can block malicious text messages and detect and clean any infected files before they run.
Service providers are also hip to the danger. Verizon Wireless and Vodafone joined forces to sue several operators sending SMS spam to their subscribers, in light of a text-spam campaign that flooded tens of thousands of subscribers with unwanted texts about discount prescription medicine. Unlike email messages, users are charged for each text message they receive or send, compounding the problem of SMS spam.
But it’s up to the consumer to be smart about this type of issue. Savvy cellphone users should shut their phone’s Bluetooth reception when they don’t need it. It’s also advisable to contact a service provider immediately if an unwanted text appears on a cell. If all else fails, people can change their phone number, but that’s obviously a last resort no one would like to choose.
Let’s hope cellphone spam goes the way of the pager and dies a quick death. It’s disappointing — but quite predictable — that spammers would turn to cellphones as their next target, as if they weren’t flooding enough inboxes already. What all cell users should do is stay vigilant, report worms and unwanted messages as soon as possible, and make sure this devious form of sabotage doesn’t spiral out of control.
More about Cellphone, Virus, Spyware, Symantec, Mcafee
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