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Did you know what was the first smartphone virus and what it could do?

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Did you know what was the first smartphone virus and what it could do?
As you probably know already, smartphone viruses are an existing threat. Sure, you won't get one if you're careful with what you download and where you download it from, yet the chance of a smartphone becoming infected is still there. A small fraction of users do get a virus at some point, and that exposes their sensitive information at a grave risk. For example, a recent malware strain called Simplocker could freeze the files on a user's microSD card and would demand a ransom if the user wanted them to be unlocked. But how did it all start anyway? Since when have smartphone viruses existed?

Well, the first smartphone virus, called Cabir, was documented in 2004. Technically, it wasn't the first piece of malware to target mobile devices – Palm OS-based PDA's had their security holes as well – but it was the first to affect smartphones specifically. In particular, it could infect Symbian S60 smartphones, such as the Nokia N-Gage, Nokia 6600 and Nokia 6630. (Remember these?)

But although it was still a virus, Cabir was a pretty harmless piece of code. When installed, it would display the message "Caribe" on the host's screen and start scanning for nearby Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. Then it would attempt to spread by sending itself in the form of Caribe.SIS, a Symbian application archive. At worst, it could drain a phone's battery faster by keeping the Bluetooth radio busy. It couldn't crash the phone, steal information, or anything like that.

So yeah, Cabir didn't exactly wreak havoc (as some other viruses surely can), but it served as proof that smartphones weren't immune to malware attacks. It paved the way for meaner Cabir variants to emerge, including ones that could disable the user's access to the Bluetooth settings and that could spread via MMS. Later came threats like the Skulls virus, which rendered a phone useless except for making calls, and Fontal, which could lock the infected smartphone.

Having said all that, let us remind you that you should always install apps from official sources and always avoid software that looks suspicious. For more tips and tricks on protecting yourself from threats, here's our guide on smartphone virus security.

A variant of the Skulls virus in action

A variant of the Skulls virus in action


references: Kaspersky, Securelist

26 Comments
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posted on 20 Aug 2014, 14:50 10

1. tech2 (Posts: 2015; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Ah the good ol' Nokia N Series. Best series of phones ever !

-Owner of 6600, N73 and N95

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 14:57 2

5. SamDroid (unregistered)


I had the N95 too. It was awesome.

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 15:56 1

8. nokia12 (Posts: 320; Member since: 19 Nov 2013)


n73 music edition still working fine here.. :D

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 19:00 1

13. Johnnokia (Posts: 510; Member since: 27 May 2012)


Could you forget the legend N8, whose camera is still one of the best camera phone yet

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 21:29 1

17. jshan (Posts: 187; Member since: 25 Dec 2011)


Oh speaking of n8 .. That's the horrible phone ever !! Berthing sucks but the camera !! I still have one unit in my place but I won't touch it !!

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 23:04

19. pwnarena (Posts: 873; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


could you give it to me? or donate it to some charity near you. it could still fetch some good price from enthusiasts.

posted on 21 Aug 2014, 03:49 1

21. GalaxyS5 (Posts: 200; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


I remember all the others from my early teenage years but the N8 was a doom of a phone for nokia

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 14:53 1

2. uktel3315 (Posts: 8; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


I still have nokia 6630, my first phone, and I still use it sometimes.

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 14:55 3

3. ayubkhan008 (Posts: 3; Member since: 02 Jun 2014)


N-series the king of all phones that time :) remembered that all phones...

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 14:55 3

4. jgalvez21 (Posts: 21; Member since: 29 May 2014)


symbian was dead core secure though

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 15:22

7. domfonusr (Posts: 362; Member since: 17 Jan 2014)


I never had to worry about it, though. In the US, almost no one else had a Symbian smartphone, so not only would people give me funny looks, like "what is that thing you have" and the like, but it was highly unlikely that I would ever be exposed to an infected Symbian device. I never traveled overseas, so that wasn't a concern, either.

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 15:03 1

6. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 1264; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)


I still have thaT phone lm*o..works perfectly.

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 16:59

9. javy108 (Posts: 161; Member since: 27 Jul 2014)


I never had a symbian :C

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 18:59

12. Johnnokia (Posts: 510; Member since: 27 May 2012)


So, you did not have a real phone in your life

posted on 21 Aug 2014, 03:51 1

23. GalaxyS5 (Posts: 200; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


not really. many oses were as good or better. symbian killed nokia in the end

posted on 21 Aug 2014, 11:15

26. meanestgenius (Posts: 1094; Member since: 28 May 2014)


Symbian didn't kill Nokia. Mismanagement and slow reaction as well as bad business decisions killed Nokia.

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 17:02

10. Saaduk (Posts: 4; Member since: 13 Oct 2013)


I still remember my Siemens SX1 infected with cabir virus. Felt terrible.

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 18:51

11. PorkyBurger (Posts: 218; Member since: 18 May 2013)


I had 6680. It was so cool, but except for 2 things. It was generally slow and finding MMC cards was a pain in the ass. Otherwise I played so many cool games on it, like Asphalt 2, Worms World Party, and so on. But now the buttons have broken into pieces and scattered all around the house, and housing is starting to crack. Anyways it was my most favourite phone from all phones I've ever owned.

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 21:05 2

16. domfonusr (Posts: 362; Member since: 17 Jan 2014)


My Nokia 9300 had to be my all-time favorite. I had an E75 later on, but, even with the newer and expanded features, the keyboard just wasn't at the same level. The communicator form factor and the giant (at the time) internal screen were awesome. I still have it in the original box, in my desk. Sometimes I bring it out at night, and just open it up and touch the keyboard... errr... I mean... remember the good ol' times!

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 20:05 2

14. meanestgenius (Posts: 1094; Member since: 28 May 2014)


I loved the Nokia Nseries and Eseries. I still own all of my respective handsets purchased from them: N95, N96, and N8 from the Nseries. E90, E71, E72, E73 and E75 from the Eseries. The 5800 from the express music series and the 808 pureview: the first 41 megapixel phone and most powerful Symbian handset ever. Sadly, it was also the last. You were the greatest handset maker of all time, Nokia. You are truly missed in the mobile phone market.

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 20:56 1

15. domfonusr (Posts: 362; Member since: 17 Jan 2014)


I should have bought an N95 when I had the chance... oh well. The E90 was beautiful, I wish they had made a NAM version of that one. I also had an E75 for a few years... great device. The N75 I had was also a North American Nokia powerhouse in its own time and right, too. These nostalgia articles bring back great memories.

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 22:15

18. meanestgenius (Posts: 1094; Member since: 28 May 2014)


Indeed they do.

The E90 was my favorite of the Eseries, and my favorite Symbian handset overall. Something about the design really had me hooked. I would love to see a handset out now with that same design and updated specs, but I fear no one will quite do it the justice that it would deserve except Nokia.

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 23:34 1

20. GeorgeDao123 (Posts: 54; Member since: 20 Aug 2013)


My E6 and N95 8GB still work very well. They are Nokia. Yes, Nokia without "Lumia".

posted on 21 Aug 2014, 03:50

22. Darkerm (Posts: 128; Member since: 31 Jan 2012)


A proud owner of 6600 and I still remember I had to Flash my phone several time to get rid-off the "Worm" virus.
BTW, my 6600 is still alive and fine :D

posted on 21 Aug 2014, 03:54

24. GalaxyS5 (Posts: 200; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


I still have a Nokia 6630 my first phone when I was about 12 I remember dad bought it for like 330$, as I can recall about old nokias these things never lagged or had any probs .. contrary to ios and android today.

posted on 21 Aug 2014, 04:33

25. kamran32 (Posts: 13; Member since: 13 Aug 2014)


Well I was having Nokia 6600 and the first virus works when Bluetooth switch on..

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