How cell-phone viruses will wreck your life.

Inside the Internet.
March 22 2005 7:20 AM

The Perfect Worm

Coming soon, a cell-phone virus that will wreck your life.

(Continued from Page 1)

The percentage of smartphones is growing rapidly, though, with Microsoft and Symbian each vying to create the single, standard cell-phone operatingsystem. A monocultured world of smartphone handsets would be a virus-writer's dream—a single, massively popular piece of software to poke and prod for weaknesses and insecurities. Even worse, as Symbian, Microsoft, and their competitors stuff more whiz-bang capabilities into phones, security will suffer. It's the iron law of programming: The more ambitious the software, the more gaping holes. Once smartphones have complex enough operating systems, it won't be hard to write a worm that burrows in, harvests all your info, and squirts it out to a mailbox in Pakistan. That's precisely what virulent computer worms like Sobig and Bugbear do.

The mobile-phone industry could solve the viral problem by developing an open-source, Linux-style cellular operating system. But that's about as likely as Motorola and Nokia announcing that all your cell phone calls are going to be free. For now at least, the burden falls on you. If your phone starts offering you "Free SEX!", be strong enough to say no.

Advertisement

Thanks to Mikko H. Hyppönen of F-Secure, Vincent Weaver of Symantec, Tom Pekar of Verizon Wireless, Rich Blasi of Cingular Wireless, and Greg Mastoras of Sophos.

TODAY IN SLATE

Jurisprudence

Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.