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Cell Phone Viruses

By: Cynthia Demos
By: Cynthia Demos

That fancy cell phone you use to surf the Web and check e-mail could be infected with a computer virus.

Adrian Perrig says, "Our cell phones are becoming more and more sophisticated to look more and more like regular computers, and so they can also acquire viruses."

While most of us take steps to safeguard our PCs, cell phone viruses are so new you might not even know about them. Engineers at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University found a key to detecting even the most evasive electronic bugs.

Adrian says, “Our technique is called software-based attestation, which allows an external host, like the laptop computer or even another cell phone, allows them to look into the memory of a device in a way that even malicious code executing on the device cannot hide.”

Traditional anti-virus programs scan for a list of known threats, but if a threat is not on the list, it's not detected. With software-based attestation, "swatt" for short, there's no virus roster. Rather, it scans the memory of a handheld device. Because all the viruses must dwell in memory, any deviation signals a potential virus.

Right now “swatt” only detects bugs. Once they figure out how to exterminate them, it will go on the market.


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