multimedia mobile phones, which use Microsoft's Windows Smartphone operating system, are at risk after the
discovery of a security glitch
Microsoft and U.K. carrier Orange are investigating whether hackers are sending rogue software to cell phones
using Microsoft's Smartphone 2002 operating system.
Instructions about avoiding the security catches inside the smart phone, which Orange sells and calls the SPV,
were made public the last few days, Orange spokesman Stuart Jackson said on Wednesday. The SPV is the only
wireless device on sale that uses Microsoft's operating system for advanced phones.
A source familiar with the situation said most SPV owners won't know whether they have been affected. To
launch the rogue programs, an SPV owner will have to know how to "unlock" a cell phone, a difficult process
that sometimes involves taking the phone apart. "It's not something that my granny is about to do," said the
source who requested anonymity.
Microsoft's Security Response Center, the team that looks into security vulnerabilities affecting the
company's products, began "thoroughly investigating the issue" on Tuesday, according to a Microsoft
representative. The investigation is ongoing.
"At this point, we feel speculating on the issue while the investigation is in progress will be irresponsible
and counterproductive," the representative said.
Orange is joining the investigation, Jackson said. But so far, there have been no reports of damaged phones.
"Orange takes these reports very seriously," he said. "Orange and Microsoft are working together to
investigate this issue. Until the outcome of that investigation is known, we are not in a position to comment
The possibility of rogue software flooding through cell phone networks is among the worst fears that carriers
have, said Alan Reiter, an analyst with consulting company Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing. Cell phone
networks became vulnerable to such attacks when carriers began selling phones that can download software and
games, ring tones and business tools became available for download, he said.
"Carriers will have to offer as many different applications from as many different vendors and make
downloading as easy as possible," Reiter said. "But the easier it is to transmit and receive data, the more
likely it is to get a virus or some rogue code."
To his knowledge, however, no one has accomplished on cell phones anything that even compares to the virus
attacks that often cripple computer networks. "Obviously, the carriers can't stand this happening," Reiter
said. But it's only a matter of time, he added.
(c) by ZDNet UK
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