O2 ships malware on Toshiba handsets

July 16, 2009 // 9:58 a.m.

Tags: #botnet #o2 #o2-germany #orange #spyware #tg01-malware #toshiba #toshiba-tg01 #virus #vx #vxer

The German arm of O2 has been forced to suspend sales of the Toshiba TG01 smartphone after it discovered that stocks were infected with malware.

As reported over on The Register, the mobile carrier has confirmed that sales of the Toshiba TG01 handset have ceased as a result of the discovery, which saw the company alerted to an unnamed virus hiding within the 'phone.

So far, O2 has been cagey on the details: it's not yet known whether the virus was one capable of executing on the TG01's Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system, or simply a standard bit of malware which was stored on the memory awaiting the first time the device is connected to a suitable desktop or laptop to execute.

The most likely explanation for the outbreak is that a Windows-based malware found its way onto the internal memory during production, as has been the case with digital photo frames in the past. Although usually caused by slipshod manufacturing practices by un-named Chinese and Taiwanese OEM non-brands, even major household names aren't immune – Samsung has previously shipped a driver CD containing a copy of the W32.Sality.AE worm.

O2 has informed Toshiba of its findings, and both companies are investigating to find out exactly how the malware came to be on the handsets – and what impact it could have on customers. O2 has also stated that all TG01s previously sold will be replaced with brand-new, uninfected units as soon as new stock is available – possibly as early as next week. It's not yet known whether UK stocks of the Toshiba TG01 – sold exclusively by Orange in the UK – are similarly affected.

The news comes as researchers for anti-virus firm Trend Micro discover what may be the first confirmed bot-net comprised of Symbian-based mobile handsets, capable of harvesting information and hassling contacts via SMS-based spam.

Have any of our German readers been bitten with this particular bug, or is it less of an issue than O2's scant commentry would have us believe? Are you concerned about the growing threat of mobile malware? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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