October 21, 2005
Viruses started out as a medical problem, then they became a computer ailment, and now they're showing up in another high tech area--in our cell phones. Tonight's consumer watch brings us the truth behind the ailing ringtone.
"My phone can download applications, and screen savers, and games and stuff. I do that pretty regularly, too, because I get bored really easily," said T.K. Beam, a 2nd year UVa student.
But all that clicking could mean trouble if a virus was attached to a program in her cell phone. An anti-virus firm is currently tracking 8 different cell phone viruses developed in Europe and now moving to the U.S.
It has spread through the list of phone numbers people keep in their phones. Just like email, text messages can store the viruses and cause damage, even drain a cell phone user's minutes.
"It can also utilize the on-air digital networks and if it is making long distance or air-time charges you can be on the hook for some pretty significant charges from your phone company," said James Dell, of Macrosoft Systems Inc.
Experts said it's all made possible through technology. It's something that is meant to make communicating easier as long as it's in the right hands.
"Bluetooth is a technology that allows your device to find other devices [and] talk with them, share files, programs [and] information with them," said Dell.
Bluetooth makes it easy to pass on a virus and that's why downloading and text messaging is the last thing you want to do. Experts said cell phone users can disable the Bluetooth but they just want users to be careful what you click on.
Experts also recommend not to store anything on your cell phone that you don't want the rest of the world to see.