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"Practice safe synch... Don’t beam with people you don’t know well and don’t download promiscuously."
—corporate security consultant Andrew Brunning

VIRUS IS HAIRY FOR PALM USERS

Phage Hits PDAs, Could Spread
Remember the "ILOVEYOU" bug?

Meet the Phage, otherwise known as PalmOS/Phage, a virus that attacks Palm Pilots and other PDAs (personal digital assistants).

"It's the first real virus for any PDA ever, meaning it actually has the capability of spreading further," Mikko Hermanni Hypponen, the manager of anti-virus research at Finland-based F-Secure Corp, told Reuters.Hypponen discovered the virus when a sample was submitted by an anonymous source.

So-called Trojan horses have affected handheld devices in the past, but, unlike a virus, they do not spread as easily.

Hypponen warns that viruses like Phage come disguised as computer games or pornographic images on Internet newsgroups and chatrooms. A spokesperson for Palm said the company had just heard about Phage and was evaluating its impact.

Phage makes the screen go blank for a second, then attaches its code to every program on the Palm, though it does not affect database files. Users can inadvertently spread the virus by transferring applications to other Palm devices through an infrared port. The only way to restore its capabilities is to restore programs from a backup or to download and reinstall all applications. The virus can affect devices manufactured not only by Palm, but Handspring, IBM, TRG and Symbol Technologies.

F-Secure Anti-Virus software said it will provide a fix for Phange soon, but, for now, the best bet is to "practice safe synch," according to a quote from corporate security consultant Andrew Brunning in a Wired dispatch. "Don't beam with people you don't know well and don't download promiscuously."

Which leaves us with hairy Palms.

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