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Unscrupulous Filipino phone shops are cashing on recent stories about mobile phone viruses to flog worried punters services they don't need.

A virus called Cabir (AKA Caribe) which targets mobile phones running the Symbian operating system and spreads via Bluetooth was discovered back in June. Handsets from manufacturers such as Nokia, Siemens, Panasonic and Sendo running a Symbian Series 60 operating system could theoretically be infected. The virus, the first capable of infecting mobile phone, was not in circulation at the time of its discovery. Since then there have been rumours but no firm evidence that Cabir is spreading.

Despite this Manila phone shops are offering to clean "infected" mobile phone handsets for between 500 up to 1,000 ($8.90 to $19.60) pesos a pop, Jamz Yaneza, a senior antivirus consultant of Trend Micro, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The paper reports that local phone shops are advertising their mobile phone virus removal services with signs like "Repair Virus Caribe".

Cabir does not have a damaging payload and protection is easy so even if the virus was circulating users have little need to use the snake oil services of back-street Manila phone resellers. Consumers with mobile phones running a Symbian Series 60 operating system need only keep their Bluetooth in non-discoverable mode to guard against Cabir. Turning off Bluetooth will also stop the worm dead in its tracks, AV firm F-Secure points out. ®

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