TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: A Virus Writer Tests the Limits in Cellphones

A Virus Writer Tests the Limits in Cellphones

Monty Solomon (
Tue, 25 Jan 2005 02:24:29 -0500


Marcos Velasco, a 32-year-old Brazilian software developer, enjoys
movies with special effects, maintains a vast collection of antique
computers in his home and is the proud father of two young children
and one mobile phone virus, which he named after himself: Velasco.

Computer security experts around the world have given his virus and
its variants more toxic-sounding names like "Lasco.A,"
"Symbos_Vlasco.A" or simply "the Lasco virus." They are also calling
it stupid.

"We think he's dangerous," said Mikko Hypponen, the director of
antivirus research for a Finnish company, F-Secure, "because he
publicly posts working mobile malware that any clown anywhere can
easily download and use."

Mr. Velasco's creation is essentially a piece of computer code that
takes advantage of the short-range radio frequency technology called
Bluetooth, which is installed on many common handheld devices,
especially cellphones. If a person carrying an infected phone passes
someone carrying a Bluetooth phone on the street, Mr. Velasco's worm
can jump the gap, infecting the second phone.

He does not spread the virus -- technically a worm, according to some
computer security experts, that has the ability to reproduce itself
and does not need a host program -- but he is evidently happy to share
his work. "This worm for cellular phones is the first one with
available source code in the world," his Web site declares.

Whether anyone beyond antivirus researchers has downloaded
Mr. Velasco's program is an unanswered question, and industry experts
are careful to say that the age of the cellphone virus is not yet upon

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