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Spanish police arrest alleged phone-virus creator
Published: 2007-06-25

Authorities in Spain charged a 28-year-old man with creating more than 20 different variants of the Cabir and CommWarrior viruses, which could infect mobile phones based on the Symbian operating system, antivirus firms stated on Sunday.

Law enforcement officers arrested the man in Valencia, Spain, after a seven-month investigation into the viruses, which infected an estimated 115,000 phones, according to a police statement cited by antivirus firm Sophos. The viruses reportedly contain a reference to "Leslie," which Sophos claims is the name of the suspect's fiancée.

"Cellphone viruses are not as common as the malware which strikes Windows desktops on a regular basis, but it is just as illegal in its intent," Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, said in a statement announcing the arrest. "Viruses are not harmless pranks; they cause real harm disrupting business and personal communications as well as destroying and stealing sensitive data."

In the past, virus writers have seldom been caught. Authorities arrested two people on charges of creating separate variants of the MSBlast -- or Blaster -- worm. The worm, which spread to at least 25 million computers in 2003 and 2004, led Microsoft to establish a bounty program to pay for information about those responsible for releasing viruses. In 2005, the program divvied up $250,000 between two informants who led authorities to the author of the Sasser worm.

The latest arrest is not the first for Spanish authorities. In 2003, Spanish police arrested a 23-year-old man on charges of creating and releasing the Raleka worm, which exploited the same vulnerability as the MSBlast worm.

Attacks on mobile phones have dramatically declined in 2007, compared to the year before, according to antivirus firm McAfee.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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