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January 21st, 2009

New Symbian OS Malware Silently Transfers Mobiles Account Credit

Kaspersky Lab warned users of five newly found variants of the Trojan-SMS.Python.Flocker mobile malware, targeting an Indonesian mobile provider’s service allowing users to transfer money or minutes to each other’s accounts.

Last week, Kaspersky Lab experts detected a new malicious program for Symbian OS. The Trojan is written in Python script language. The amounts transferred range from $0.45 to $0.90. Thus, if the cybercriminals behind the Trojan manage to infect a large number of phones, the amount transferred to their mobile phone account as a result could be quite substantial.

SMS Python Flocker is a known mobile malware family, whose previous versions used to automatically send SMS message from the infected mobile device to premium-rate numbers operated by the malware authors. Once infected with the latest variant, the malware would transfer credit from the infected device by silently SMS-ing the provider’s credit transfer service with the desired amount of credit.

Such mobile credit transfer services are used internationally, however, compared to simple cash/account credit transfers, in the long term mobile malware authors would continue looking for ways to steal hard cash. “Obviously, the authors of the Trojan want to make money,” said Denis Maslennikov, a senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab. “It seems that the focus on financial fraud in the mobile malware industry will only get more pronounced over time. Until recently, many people thought that malicious programs that send SMS messages without the user’s knowledge were a purely Russian phenomenon. Now we can see that the problem no longer affects only Russian users – it’s becoming an international issue.”

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