From lessons in biology, we know that viruses infect every other organism, without exception, including even the tiniest bacteria. Thus, biologists and anti-virus experts were not surprised to hear of the first malware infections of mobile devices. The first PDA virus appeared on the Palm platform in 2000.
The Palm OS has a different architecture from desktop computers, so it is less suscep-tible to immediate infections from existing desktop viruses. In addition, the Palm has certain safeguards built into the OS to help protect data at various points. Nevertheless, Palm eventually succumbed to its first virus. In addition, experts predict future infections to be far worse .
The Palm has several potential methods of infection. For example, when the handheld is synchronized with its desktop counterpart , there is a transmission of data. Fortunately, most desktop viruses, even if rampant on the office machine, will not infect the PDA itself. In addition, this type of virus is usually picked up by desktop antivirus software. However, if a Palm does become infected, it can pass the infection back to other desktops. For instance, when the palm carrying the infected file synchronizes with another remote desktop, it can pass the infection, much like the slow floppy disk infections of old.
In addition, there is a theoretical potential for infection by using existing desktop viruses as a vector. If a virus writer could "wrap" a Palm-specific virus in a desktop virus, then the desktop anti-virus software might not detect it. A user might then unwittingly download the "clean" file from the desktop, which when executed could unwrap and release the Palm-specific virus.
Furthermore, the Palm can potentially pass malicious code by infrared beaming. However, this feature requires the user to manually accept the infrared connection; there is no default promiscuous mode for Palm infrared reception . Also, beaming requires close physical proximity, usually two feet or less.
The greatest threat to handhelds, however, comes from wireless connections. In this case, the broadcast virus would totally bypass anti-virus software on the desktop computer. The only way to protect against these " airborne viruses" is at the wireless server or on the PDA itself. Antivirus solutions for both the handset and the central server have been developed, but this technology is still in its infancy.
Phage was the first Palm Virus, and was discovered in September 2000. When the virus is executed, infected PDA files display a gray box that covers the screen, whereupon the application terminates. In addition, the virus infects all other applications on the Palm.
When a carrier Palm is synchronized with a clean Palm, the clean palm receives the Phage virus in any infected file. This virus will in turn copy itself to all other applications on the clean Palm.
The Phage virus can be removed by deleting any file that is infected. In addition, you must delete any occurrence of the file phage.prc from your backup folder. You can then reboot your Palm and re-sync with the desktop.
This virus acts as a Trojan horse because it comes in a disguise (although it does not open a backdoor). Liberty is a program that allows you to run Nintendo Game Boy games on the Palm OS. Liberty is shareware, but like all useful shareware, it has a code that converts it to the full registered version.
The authors of Liberty decided to pay back the pirates by releasing a crack for Liberty that was actually a virus. The author distributed it on IRC. Unfortunately for the pirate, when executed, the Liberty crack virus deletes all applications from the PDA.
It is important to note that no matter how much you dislike someone, it is wrong to unleash uncontrolled, replicating viruses in the wild (unless you are an approved government agency). By releasing a destructive virus with the intent to harm computer systems, the shareware author committed a severe criminal offense, and if convicted, would go to jail for far longer than the software pirate ever would. Shareware authors who booby trap their software are like the grumpy old man who, angry at a small group of young vandals, pays them back by poisoning an entire school's water supply.
This virus can spread both through the desktop and through wireless email. In fact, it might be the first known PDA virus to spread wirelessly in the wild. Removal is straightforward; simply delete the file liberty_1_1_crack.prc from the Palm.
The Vapor virus does just what it sounds like it should; when infected with Vapor, all the files on the PDA "disappear." When the infected file is executed, all application icons will vanish as if deleted. This is a trick, because the files still exist. In reality, the virus simply removed their icons from the display. This is similar to setting all files as Hidden on a desktop system. To counter this, simply re-install your file system.