The downside of having smarter phones is that they are easier to hack. China is finding this out the hard way. More than 1 million cell phones in China have been infected with a virus that continually sends out text messages, costing the country’s citizens $300,000 a day (2 million yuan), according to Shanghai Daily (via InformationWeek).
The ‘zombie’ virus is hidden in a fake anti-virus app. Once installed, the virus sends all of the names and phone numbers on a user’s SIM card to the hackers, who automatically take control the phone and send spam texts to friends and family. The texts are usually full of links that will infect others with the virus or are sent to pay-to-text phone numbers, racking in cash for the hackers. The virus infected one million users by the end of the first week of September and has continued to grow since then. China’s National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Center is working to solve the problem.
Like always, copycat viruses have already begun to appear and the country is having a difficult time tracking down those responsible for the virus.
A troubling trend
As the smartphone market continues to evolve, more exploits, hacks, and viruses will likely appear on phones worldwide. A recent prediction by Imperva drives this home. “We expect exponential growth in the number of incidents related to mobile devices in the next few years. From theft or compromise of information in these devices, through massive infection campaigns, and up to frequent exploit of the vulnerabilities introduced into the server side.”
In July, a security company discovered that a series of Android wallpaper apps were bundled with a virus that steals personal information. The virus sent the user’s phone number, subscriber identifier, and voicemail number to an unknown location in China. Luckily, that virus didn’t end up costing users millions in overages.