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Russian virus hunters Kaspersky Labs have detected a Trojan horse programme capable of infecting PDAs running Microsoft's PocketPC operating system.

Although a very small number of PocketPC viruses have been located, Brador-A is said to be the first backdoor program capable of infecting handhelds running PocketPC. Previous PocketPC viruses have been written as experiments in coding not for malicious intent. Brador-A breaks this pattern by coming pre-loaded with a series of malicious routines.

David Emm, senior technology consultant at Kaspersky Labs, said that PocketPC owners should not be too worried about the Trojan, at least for now. He pointed out that thus far the malware has only been seen in the Lab. It is not circulating on the wider Internet. Also PocketPC users would have to run the Trojan in order to become infected. "It could be spread by sending out emails saying 'check out this cool game for PocketPC' so there is a risk but at the moment PocketPC owner should not be unduly worried."

Brador-A is designed to allow its author full control over the infected PDA via the port that the Trojan opens. Like all backdoors, Brador cannot spread by itself: it can only arrive as an email attachment, be downloaded from the Internet or uploaded along with other data from a desktop.

After the backdoor is launched, Brador-A creates the svchost.exe file in the Windows auto run folder, loading the malware every time a handheld is turned on. Brador next identifies the machines IP address and sends it to back to its author, informing him that the handheld is in the Internet and the backdoor is active. Finally, Brador-A opens port 44299 and awaits further commands.

"We were certain that a viable malicious program for PDAs would appear soon after the first proof of concept viruses emerged for mobile phones and Windows Mobile", said Eugene Kaspersky, head of AV research at Kaspersky Labs, "Brador-A is a full-scale malicious program ready to go: unlike proof of concept malware, Brador has a complete set of destructive functions typical for backdoors."

According to Kaspersky Labs, Brador was probably written by a Russian virus writer. The Trojan was attached to an email with a Russian sender and Russian text inside sent to Kaspersky Labs. Its author offered to sell the client part for the Trojan to any interested parties. Kaspersky warns that there is a real chance that the backdoor may be bought by somebody who will use it commercially (bot network creation, for instance).

Kaspersky Labs has already updated the antivirus databases with protection against Brador-A. Other AV companies can be expected to follow suit. ®

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