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First Palm virus isolated

Anti-virus guys sniff out new market

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The Palm platform has been hit with its first true virus. Dubbed Phage, after a germ-ridden bunch of aliens in Star Trek: Voyager, the virus infects Palm-based applications.

Time to panic? Probably not. True, it's only a couple of weeks since the first Palm infection emerged - a Trojan Horse data-killer released onto the Net inadvertently - but Phage's potential for serious damage seems slim. It attaches itself to a Palm device's applications, but leaves data intact, according to Finland-based anti-virus operation F-Secure, cited by Reuters.

F-Secure reckons the virus can be spread through Palm-to-Palm infra-red links, but at least the virus can be eliminated by restoring unaffected apps from a PC-based back-up.

Still, while Phage may not be too nasty, it shows the potential for rather more horrific infections. The anti-virus guys will, of course, love this - it's a whole new market after all - and are already hard at work on Palm-oriented disinfection products.

And issuing panic-inducing statements aimed at scaring Palm users.

For example, F-Secure manager Mikko Hypponen was quick to tell an eager Reuters that it's only a matter of time before a virus as dangerous as Love Bug, which zapped numerous corporate email systems earlier this year, appears on the Palm.

"No doubt [virus writers] are already sharing the source code for this virus," he said. ®

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