Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Virus name: Mobile Phone virus (aka ACE-? and UNAVAILABLE)
Origins: This warning first appeared on the Internet in 1999, when it cautioned cell phone users to beware of answering calls from "UNAVAILABLE." In 2002 the hoax was revived for another run, that time cautioning mobile chatters against taking calls from
There is no such threat. No mobile phone viruses capable of infecting cell phones and erasing SIM cards have yet been discovered.
Hoaxes often contain claims that authoritative sources have confirmed the substance of the warnings, and this one is no exception. It asserts that both Nokia and Motorola validate the information and that CNN has run at least one item about it, yet both Nokia and Motorola label this a hoax, and a search of CNN's site turns up no story about this "virus." It's a hoax all the way down.
In June 2000, an instance of a computer virus that affected cell phones was recorded, although this wasn't a case of a malevolent program inserted into the phones themselves; the cells were merely the final destination of the
Timofonica did not harm cell phones any more than a wrong number call damages any phone. However, as wireless technology grows more sophisticated, so does the risk that one of these days there really will be a real virus launched against cell phones, one that will force its way into units and do nasty little things to them once it's in there. There are also concerns that the rush to get new technology onto the market sometimes results in not nearly enough care being given to security issues.
Barbara "call waiting" Mikkelson
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