Fact: there are NO
viruses for any Symbian OS 9 smartphone - the OS makes access to dangerous
'propagating' functions restricted to proper 'signed' (checked) applications.
So you if you own a S60 3rd Edition or UIQ 3-based smartphone you can stop
Fact: no-one can pass
a virus to your Symbian/S60/UIQ smartphone over Bluetooth or MMS without your
knowledge. See a plea for sanity, below.
Fact: the Symbian (pre-OS 9,
pre-S60 3rd Edition) 'viruses' you read about aren't really in the wild,
in the same way that Windows viruses are. Most Symbian malware has been created
as 'concept' software and sent straight to an anti-virus vendor (who naturally
make a pretty penny out of advising people that they need a-v utility
software). Because it's realistically impossible for these apps to spread in
most sensible societies, you simply will not come across them in the real world
unless you happen to hang around with teenagers with older handsets bent on
trying all the latest trojan-infested 'warez' (see below).
Fact: it's impossible
for any piece of malicious software to make your smartphone unusable. Even if
you allow a piece of 'malware' (i.e. a malicious program) onto your unit, it
can't touch the OS and applications in ROM, which means you can always do a
hard reset (typing in *#7370# works with most Series 60
smartphones, 'Dial'+'*'+'3' while powering on for newer ones, procedures for
UIQ and Series 80 units are in the manual) to get back to a working system.
Fact: the biggest
hazard in the Symbian world is the 'warez' scene, where unscrupulous people
'crack' commercial software and then put it up for free download. Quite apart
from the ethical considerations about putting genuine Symbian authors out of
business, these cracked versions are the perfect opportunity for a malicious
cracker to insert routines designed to cripple your phone or scramble your
You can stay clear of such malware by downloading your Symbian OS
third party software from recognised software sites and staying clear of warez.
This isn't just me quoting a party line here - this is simply practising safe
computing. Only download from trusted sources.
|A CHALLENGE FOR VIRUS WRITERS OR ANTI-VIRUS
The deal: I'll stand in a room with you and all your
infected toys. I'll have a old Series 60 smartphone, a UIQ device and a Series
80 smartphone, all set with Bluetooth to 'Discoverable'. I'll give you as long
as you want to try and infect me in any way whatsoever, I'll even accept your
SMS and MMS messages and generally communicate. If you succeed in infecting me,
I'll hand over an obscene amount of money. No-one fancy the challenge? I
Symbian OS viruses - just keep your software legal and move
Footnote: in 4 years, no company has EVER take me
up on the challenge....
You can keep your Symbian smartphone completely free of
malware by following a few simple rules:
- Use an up to date (S60 3rd Edition, UIQ 3, etc)
- Don't accept unsolicited Bluetooth transmissions from
other phones. Or trust applications tacked onto MMS messages ('e.g. Hey, try my
new, kewl game!')
- To avoid mischevious 'trojans', don't install
applications unless they are ones you've asked for or have downloaded from
reputable software sites (Handango, AllAboutSymbian, My-Symbian,
In most cases, it's quite safe to leave Bluetooth
visibility as 'Shown to all'. If you do get bothered by too many unsolicited
connection attempts, simply change the setting to 'Hidden'. Although given that
the number of 'infected' older Series 60 phones worldwide is
truly tiny, you really don't have to worry! You're 100 times more
likely to be hit by lightning or to win the lottery...
(C) 2004 - 2008 Steve Litchfield
David Wood (a.k.a. God), over on Silicon.com.
David Wood again,
this time on the official Symbian site.