Mobile Phone Virus Surfaces in US

The world's first virus that specifically targets mobile phones has made an appearance in the United States. Called Cabir, the virus initially appeared in the Philippines about eight months ago. Since then, it has spread to twelve countries and could eventually threaten a significant portion of the 1.5 billion cell phone users worldwide.

"It's interesting (the Cabir variant) has now been found in the United States, but it's not the end of the world," said Mikko Hypponen, director of Finnish anti-virus research company F-Secure. He explained that the biggest impact of the virus is draining cell phone batteries.

The virus originally appeared in a technology gadget store within two cell phones in the store's window, leading researchers to believe that a passer-by infected the two phones by using Bluetooth. The virus then spread to the store owner's phone, and Hypponen said it was likely other phones in the area were infected, although no reports have been received.

The virus spreads slowly because it uses the Bluetooth capabilities of the phone to propagate itself. Thus, users without the Bluetooth feature will not easily contract the virus. Also, a user must restart his phone for the virus to take hold.

Mobile phone makers are responding to Cabir, as well as other future mobile viruses, by offering anti-virus software on new handsets. However, the virus threat will continue to increase, especially as phones converge around common operating systems like today's computers.

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