New attack targeting Windows Mobile phones

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Attacks on Google's Android and Apple's iPhone have made headlines recently but now Windows Mobile phones are the latest target.

The latest wave is a Windows CE/Mobile polymorphic "companion" virus, according to a McAfee Avert Labs blog post on Thursday.
It could also be regarded as one of the real first viruses for Windows Mobile, Jan Volzke, head of global marketing for McAfee's mobile division, told Thursday.

The virus is notable because it combines two different PC attack methods — one called a "companion technique" and encryption.

The companion technique has been around for a while and was used in the days of DOS but not on many newer platforms. It works by masquerading as a clean executable program or file on a user's PC so that an infected user, intending to run the original program, runs the virus. The virus also utilizes encryption, which is a common technique that allows it to evade detection by most anti-virus programs.

“It's remarkable that these two concepts have made it to the mobile environment,” Volzke said.

McAfee is currently investigating the threat associated with this virus and which parts of mobile devices are affected.

Handhelds have started to act and interact similar to PCs on the internet and are susceptible to malicious activity, Volzke said. The threat level overall is considerably lower, however, because it is easier for hackers to earn money targeting PCs than mobile environments.

Researchers in the Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC) recently predicted mobile threats will pose one of the top risks to end-users in 2009, suggesting that botnets will spread to handhelds.

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