Feeds

China faces million-strong zombie phone horde

Leading the world in mobile malware

The essential guide to IT transformation

More than a million mobile phones in China have been infected with the AVK.Dumx.A Trojan.

According to local reports in the Shanghai Daily, the infection is costing users more than two million yuan (just shy of £200,000) in text messaging as it attempts to spread.

The disguise the Trojan wears is unclear, though it does appear to be Symbian-based. All reports agree that in addition to spreading itself the infection logs with a central server in readiness to receive additional instructions.

The Shanghai Daily's report explains that the infection comes embedded in an anti-virus package, but the official notification from the Chinese "National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Center" draws attention to a media player called DuMusicPLayer which it reckons is carrying the Trojan.

The infection does check for, and disable, anti-virus software running on the handset in the same way as the more-advanced desktop viruses. It then sends SMS messages to everyone in the handset address book, containing links to the package, and reports the handset phone number, model and other available details to a remote server.

That server is under investigation by the local authorities, but it's very possible that the miscreants already have a decent list of infected numbers to which they can send commands over the SMS network whenever they want. Those commands could, for example, make the phone call a premium number or premium text service, offering financial reward to the developers.

The only good news is that the infection is so virulent that users rapidly become aware that their phone is infected by all the text messages it suddenly starts sending - a more relaxed version of the same thing would be much harder to detect even if it took proportionally longer to spread.

The best defence against this kind of thing is, of course, a locked-down device with a gatekeeper. Users, in China and elsewhere, always click "continue" in the face of security warnings such as those presented when this infection is received.

As our mobile phones become as prone to infection as our desktop computers, we'll have to decide what price we're prepared to pay for our security before we see a million-strong zombie army in the west. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday
Customer: 'Please change your name to occasionally somewhere'
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.