By Ahmed Naser
State owned Telecom monopolies better be on the watch. At least that's the message a new virus is propagating on Spainish Telefonica's GSM network there, which anti-virus developers intercepted on Monday.
Similar to the "ILOVEYOU" virus "Timofonica," a play on the Spanish Telecom operator's name, is a macro virus written in Microsoft's scripting language, Visual Basic, and as such needs a version of Outlook running under Windows to be activated.
"Timo" means trick or prank in Spanish. The virus arrives at mailboxes in the form of an attachment named "timofonica.txt.vbs" in an e-mail with the following header:
The body of the message contains a message in Spanish blasting Telefonica for "cheating" its customers and urges receivers to forward the e-mail to friends, as well as an attachment. After clicking on the timofonica.txt.vbs attachment, the virus sends itself with its critical message of Telefonica to the Spanish Telecom monopoly's SMS gateway, where it then starts sending text-based SMS messages to GSM phones about how they are being "cheated" by Telefonica.
"This seems to be a political virus," commented Mikko Hypponen, Manager of Anti-Virus Research at F-Secure Corporation, headquartered in Espoo, Finland with North American headquarters in San Jose, California.
"Apparently the virus is trying to protest against the Telefonica company -- and it attempts to do this by sending the message directly to people's mobile phones."
The virus causes no potential technical harm to GSM phones, according to reports so far. Neither does it spread through cell-phones.
"This is the first ever virus to do anything with mobile phones," added Hypponen. "However, this is not a mobile phone virus - it does not spread through phones, it just sends annoying messages to them."
Meanwhile, there is no information on where the virus may have originated. There are no obvious clues in the source code of the virus other than that it was obviously written in Spain.
F-Secure Corporation launched F-Secure Anti-Virus for WAP Gateways in February 2000 to protect WAP mobile phone systems against virus attacks -- Albawaba.com
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