Infecting A Policeman’s Phone

I’ve been a bit skeptical of the danger of mobile phone viruses — at least for the time being — but I had to chuckle at this one.

Mikko Hypponen, director research at F-Secure tells in a recent email of giving a presentation on mobile viruses at Interpol’s 6th International Conference on Cyber Crime in Cairo, Egypt. There

one of the local police officers approached me. He wanted to ask about suspicious activity on his Nokia 6600.

I had a look and – get this – his personal phone was infected with Cabir.B! So basically, he was walking around the secure conference area with a live virus on his phone while dozens of people from all over the world were constantly walking around him.

Mikko says that brings to 16 the number of countries where the Cabir worm — Cabir is a worm that runs on Symbian Series 60 devices and replicates over Bluetooth. It comes to phones messaging inbox as caribe.sis file, that contains the worm — has been sighted.

Indeed, Cabir is nearly a year old. Since then several other Symbian worms and viruses have been found. Check out this list. I don’t see this as a major threat, but if true, it’s funny that at least one cop is walking around a cybersecurity conference with an infected phone.

Using Bluetooth To Disable Camera Phones

Here’s a possible solution to the problem of camera-phone voyeurs.

Lee Choo Kiong of Singapore’s AsiaOne reports (thanks ITJournoAsia, subscription required) on three Temasek Polytechnic students who have come up with software that will disable camera functions on some cellphones, using Bluetooth.

What I think happens is that software is loaded into the cellphone (presumably with the user’s permission and knowledge) and then once the cellphone comes into range of the Bluetooth device, its camera functions are disabled. Other functions of the phone would work normally, the report says. The report quotes one of the inventors, Lu Qian, 21, as saying: “This technology is useful in places where confidentiality is paramount, such as on military grounds, where visitors are not allowed to bring in their cellphones.”

Obviously this is limited by the fact that you can only load the software with the user’s cooperation. And the software has so far been successfully tested only with Nokia 6600 and 7210 Bluetooth phones. It failed with a Nokia 7650 model, the report says.

On the other hand, as the inventors say, this might be useful in places where, instead of banning all phones, owners could submit their phone for modification and then be allowed to keep it, the camera disabled. That would make sense in military installations, factories, gyms or other places of sensitivity or virtue.