Ten years ago, Kaspersky Lab reported the discovery of Cabir – the first ever worm designed to attack mobile phones. Unlike most modern malware samples, Cabir wasn’t equipped with a wide range of malicious functions. Instead it made history by

Ten years ago, Kaspersky Lab reported the discovery of Cabir – the first ever worm designed to attack mobile phones. Unlike most modern malware samples, Cabir wasn’t equipped with a wide range of malicious functions. Instead it made history by proving that it was possible to infect mobile phones.

Kaspersky Lab experts first encountered Cabir at the beginning of June 2004. One of the company’s virus analysts was just ending his shift and handing over to a colleague, when he noticed an email with no text but with an attachment. The attachment was suspicious: it was a file, but a quick analysis couldn’t determine the software platform it was written for. It definitely wasn’t designed for Windows or Linux, the platforms that Kaspersky Lab analysts usually worked with.

“Roman Kuzmenko was working the night shift that night,” Alexander Gostev, Chief Security Expert at Kaspersky Lab recalls. “He stood out among other analysts who worked at Kaspersky Lab at that time because of his ability to analyze complicated threats fast and accurately. Pretty soon after he started looking at that suspicious file, Roman discovered that it was written to execute in Symbian OS – a mobile operating system which powered Nokia mobile phones,” Gostev adds.

Further analysis showed that this file was able to send itself to another phone via Bluetooth. As a result the battery of the infected phone drained extremely quickly. This was the only function of the newly discovered malware and it was hardly malicious. However, its ability to send itself to other mobile phones forced Kaspersky Lab experts to build a special testing room for analyzing such threats.

“Our colleagues from neighboring offices started to come in complaining that some kind of ’virus’ was infecting their phones. As a result, we decided to equip a room with a special covering to prevent any radio signal from leaving it. This room then served as a special place to conduct tests on new mobile malware samples,” said Gostev.

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