F-Secure backtracks on mobile 'virus'

F-Secure backtracks on mobile 'virus'

Security firm caught on tape

F-Secure has backtracked on a statement it made at the Infosecurity show, where the company reported a mobile "virus" that was charging users $5 to send premium SMS messages.

The company originally said that the virus, which was much like the Commwarrior Bluetooth worm, was now affecting mobile phone users.

However, F-Secure yesterday denied the story in a blog posting, following a number of enquiries it received from other journalists.

"Apparently the reporter misunderstood a quite harmless Java Trojan as a dangerous Bluetooth worm that is spreading in the wild. It seems that the reporter got mixed up with Redbrowser and Commwarrior," a post by Jarno Niemela said on the company's blog.

Unfortunately for F-Secure, vnunet.com had recorded the interview (1.87MB) with Richard Hales, F-Secure's country manager for UK and Ireland, in which he clearly talks about the new threat.

"It's people doing it to prove they can at the moment," Hales says, following a discussion of the Commwarrior and Skulls viruses.

"Although again I saw an email in the last few days where somebody is now making money from it. Somebody has launched something that gets your phone to send an SMS to a premium rate service.

"So the virus sends authority that it can charge you," Hales says, clearly stating that this is a virus.

When F-Secure was confronted with this information, vnunet.com received an apologetic phone call from Hales, who admitted that he got it wrong.

Hales agreed to contact Niemela and get him to change his posting on the F-Secure blog.

However, when the blog was eventually updated, F-Secure still suggested that it was vnunet.com which got the story wrong.

Hales has now formally apologised to vnunet.com in an emailed statement. "I'm really sorry about what happened," he wrote.

"I don't write the blog so this can be considered accurate as straight from the technical folks who work with the malware that we see. I'm sorry that the first entry suggested it was mis-reporting by you when in fact I made a mistake."