Mobile malware started with Cabir a decade ago: Kaspersky

Security vendor traces back the malware of today to the discovery of a mobile phone worm from 2004

Kaspersky Lab’s collection of mobile malware now contains more than 340,000 of unique malware samples, with more than 99 per cent targeting Android.

According to the security vendor, the state of today's mobile landscape can be traced to Cabir, the first ever worm to attack mobile phones.

Discovered in June 2004, Cabir did not have a wide range of malicious functions, though proved it was possible to infect mobile phones.

Kaspersky Lab chief security expert, Alexander Gostev, describes Cabir, which was discovered by an analyst during a late night shift, as the genesis of mobile malware.

“Soon after we discovered it, we saw clearly that mobile threats are a very serious problem which needs a very special approach,” he said.

The root of malware

After Cabir was uncovered by Kaspersky, Gostev said a few hundred different viruses targeting Symbian devices soon followed.

Within the Cabir malware, experts found mentions of 29A, a group of malware writers responsible for viruses targeting vulnerabilities and infecting particular computer subsystems or devices.

“This group was known for developing malicious software that made a lot of noise in the cyber security world, such as Cap, Steam, Rugrat,” Gostev said.

Once new mobile operating systems such as Android came along, the number of new malware samples for Symbian began to decline rapidly, particularly as the widespread adoption of the smartphone platform made it more lucrative for cybercriminals.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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