Mobile phone virus author arrested in Spain

Spanish police have reportedly arrested a man suspected of creating 20 variants of the Cabir and CommWarrior mobile phone viruses

Spanish police have arrested a 28-year-old man on charges that he created variants of the CommWarrior and Cabir mobile phone viruses, according to published reports.

The man, whose identity was not disclosed, was arrested in Valencia, Agence France Press (AFP) reported Saturday. He is accused of creating 20 new variants of the viruses.

Spanish police had named their operation "Leslie," because the virus author had written a note in his source code dedicating his malware to his fiance, Leslie, AFP reported.

CommWarrior and Cabir are variants of the same mobile phone virus, which affects phones based on the Symbian OS, such as the Series 60 devices built by Nokia.

The software has infected an estimated 115,000 phones, but is not currently thought to be a particularly critical threat, said Ron O'Brien, a senior security analyst with Sophos PLC. "As a rule we have not seen a large number of viruses that specifically target mobile devices," he said.

O'Brien believes that the suspect is probably not the creator of Cabir. Three years ago a Brazilian man published the worm's source code to the Web, claiming that he was the author of the malware.

Cabir and CommWarrior spread via Bluetooth, and malicious code must first be downloaded by the victim in order to infect the phone. "It could be as simple as opening an instant message or opening an e-mail," O'Brien said.

Different variations of the virus can shut down the phone, wipe out an address book or even send SMS (Short Message Service) messages to other phones, O'Brien said.

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Robert McMillan

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