The First Mobile Botnet?

>> Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Assuming the iPhone exploit described above was able to make it into the wild, it could effectively compromise all the unprotected iPhones in the world (which, in theory, would be all of them, if no patch is distributed). The hack would essentially turn the phones into "zombies" - a term usually used to refer to PCs compromised by a hack, virus, or trojan horse in order to do the bidding of a hacker. Along with other compromised PCs like them, this group of computers would form a botnet of "zombie" machines.
While botnets are common in the PC world - it's estimated that these machines are used to send anywhere from fifty to eighty percent of spam worldwide - botnets consisting of mobile phones are practically unheard of...or are they?
Earlier this month, Symantec revealed an SMS threat dubbed "Sexy Space" created using malware known as SymbOS.Exy.C, a revision of older variations also used to create similar threats. Using simple social engineering tactics, this hack involves sending SMS spam with names like "Sexy View," "Sexy Girl," and "Sexy Space" to encourage victims to click an included link in the text message.
This particular exploit, only found on Symbian-powered devices so far, is smart enough to end certain programs on the hijacked phone that would make it possible to manually end the threat. At first, the hack was only being seen in China, but later an English version was discovered in the Middle East.
What's most frightening about this particular threat is that it's controlled by a central server. That means hackers could control the attacked phones the same way hackers today control zombie PCs. This led the Symantec researchers to wonder if this was, in fact, the first case of a mobile botnet being spotted in the wild.

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