Monday, January 26, 2009

New Malware Steals Money From Your Cell Phone

Kaspersky Labs has discovered a new piece of malware that targets Symbian based cell phones provided by an Indonesian mobile phone operator. The virus know as Trojan-SMS.Python.Flocker, sends SMS messages with instructions to transfer part of the money in the user’s account to another account, which belongs to the cybercriminals.

So far the amounts transferred has remained small ranging from $0.45 to $0.90. It is likely the attackers are using the small amounts to fly under the radar. However as Kaspersky Labs notes if the cybercriminals behind the Trojan manage to infect a large number of phones, the amount transferred to their mobile phone account as a result could be quite substantial.

"Obviously, the authors of the Trojan want to make money,” said Denis Maslennikov, a senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab. “It seems that the focus on financial fraud in the mobile malware industry will only get more pronounced over time. Until recently, many people thought that malicious programs that send SMS messages without the user’s knowledge were a purely Russian phenomenon. Now we can see that the problem no longer affects only Russian users - it’s becoming an international issue."

According to PC World the software is a variant of the Trojan-SMS.Python.Flocker malware, originally written by Russian fraudsters. This software had originally been used to dupe victims into singing up for expensive mobile services such as ringtones, downloadeable games and other high priced services, presumably with the program's authors getting a healthy kickback. "It seems like some Indonesian guys had a look at this stuff and thought, 'Hey, we could do this in Indonesia,'" said Roel Schouwenberg, an antivirus researcher with Kaspersky.

So far the Trojan is limited to a specific Indonesian cell phone provider which allows transfer of funds through SMS, the exact provider was not disclosed. The affected Symbian operating system is used in phones made by Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, among others.

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