A mobile phone virus has been found in the wild in the US and South Africa, eight months after it was released in The Philippines.
Cabir has now spread to 13 countries including the UK but only reached the US today, when it was discovered in a gadgets shop in California. A passing techie recognised a telltale image on the infected phone's screen.
The virus has about 15 variants but is not harmful; in its worse form it can drain the phone's battery.
Mobile phone makers have been quick to try and ensure that viruses do not become as big a problem as they are on PCS by equipping the latest models with antivirus software. They are aided by the fact that the variety of competing platforms inhibits the spread and effectiveness of malicious software.
Cabir spreads slowly because it relies on Bluetooth connections to move from device to device. A virus that was able to exploit Internet connections would be capable of spreading more quickly and of infecting more phones.
Security company F-Secure notes that a user who receives the virus has to answer 'yes' several times in order to get infected and consequently it is impossible to get infected by accident. However, it notes, this assumes 'quite a lot of knowledge and care from average phone user.
'People have been told not to click unknown attachments in E-Mail for past 5 years, and still E-Mail worms are one of the most common malware type on PC systems,' the company notes in its blog. 'So it would be unrealistic to assume that average phone users would be any more cautious.'