November 12, 2010, 1:47 PM — A virus masquerading as an antivirus application (how's that for irony?) has been infecting countless mobile phones in China. The virus lets hackers take control of the phone who then spam the phone's entire address with links that allow the virus to spread to even more phones.
Is antivirus software up to the task of detecting bogus applications which send out spam as unwitting smartphone owners stand by oblivious to the nefarious activities their phones are up to? According to Shanghai Daily, at least ten other applications similar to the one containing this zombie virus have been detected since September, and for some of these viruses, security software won't detect anything wrong with the phone.
Even worse? The software company behind the original antivirus app insists that they were not behind the badware infecting at least a million Chinese phones.
For most viruses, they just propagate via clicks and the worst thing that happens is that you have to run some antivirus software. But since these are mobile phones we're talking about, this zombie software is costing phone owners a pretty penny, about $300,000 per day, adding to the nasty factor of this bit of malware.
What can you do to avoid a virus like this while traveling? Don't open suspicious links in text messages, even if they're from someone you know. Get pre-paid phone plans so that if your SIM is taken over by a remote hacker, there'll be a fixed number of messages sent before you run out of cash on your account.