SMS spam epidemic on its way, warns security expert

SMS-generated spam will become a significant problem in the future with the first-ever SMS virus worm making its appearance in Q1/09, according to the chief research officer of F-Secure, Mikko Hypponen.

The company said the SymbOS/Yxe worm was the most significant threat to emerge this year, and, although mainly confined to China, the potential remained for similar attacks elsewhere around the world. According to Hypponen, the worm spreads by sending an SMS promising a "sexy view," with links to a malicious site prompting the user to download the malware. It will then use the victim's contact list to spread.

"Sexy View is the first text message worm ever. It's also the first mobile phone worm that circumvents the signature checks that are meant to secure the latest smartphones," said Hypponen. "The motive behind it seems to be to collect information for mobile phone spamming purposes. Mobile phone spam is already a big problem in some parts of the world, and eventually it will be an issue everywhere."

Finland-based F-Secure also warned that the rise of social networking sites makes them an increasingly attractive target for online fraudsters, as the number of users grows ever larger. "When you get a message via Facebook from a friend, you tend to trust the message to be real," said Hypponen. "And when people follow an amusing link to a video and are prompted to 'update' their player, they easily fall for these attacks." The company highlighted the Koobface worm, which spreads through Facebook stealing user credentials, as one of the most high-profile threats over the period.

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