Cell phones have advanced by leaps and bounds over the years, and they are now much more powerful compared to computers that you used as desktops a couple of decades ago. In fact, most of today’s modern handsets are pretty much toned down versions of netbooks, not only being able to help you keep in touch with friends and family but boast a whole host of functionalities including playback of audio and video, surfing the Internet and even having pocket versions of productivity tools such as Microsoft Office. This is a two-edged sword, since that means viruses that plague the computer world can also wreak havoc upon the cell phone universe. Case in point, the most recent “SMS Curse of Silence” security exploit that crashes the SMS function of the phone to prevent users from receiving new text messages.
The SMS Curse of Silence affects a wide range of Symbian OS-based smartphones, where potential infected handsets are powered by UIQ as well as S60 2nd Edition Feature Packs 2 and 3, 3rd Edition and 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1 operating systems. Those who are running on S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 or 5th Edition can heave a sigh of relieve since they won’t be affected. Guess that means a whole lot of Nokia handsets are in trouble, and with many people sending New Year greetings all over the place, the downtime experienced by infected phones could grow to be pretty serious.
The Denial-of-Service attack involves sending one or, depending on the phone model, several specifically formatted SMS messages to the targeted smartphone. These messages will crash the phone’s SMS system, although it won’t render the phone unusable. Older models won’t display symptoms of the attack that would be visible to the user, though newer handsets will show alerts that the handset is running out of memory or even experience constantly flashing message icons after the attack. There is a way to clean this mess up by using F-Secure’s Mobile Security solution that prevents this exploit by detecting it and by repairing the phone so that users won’t lose their precious inbox messages. Image courtesy of F-Secure.