Palm virus released accidentally

By : |August 31, 2000 0

In what appears to be an unintended release, the first virus affecting the popular Palm handheld computers has made its way onto the Internet. Unsuspecting Palm users downloading a popular Palm program face having almost all data on their machines wiped out.

The Trojan Horse-type virus is hidden inside a program designed as an update to a popular Palm program, but instead it deletes all programs on the device. The author of the program announced the release was unintentional. He has since consulted with security experts to develop a virus antidote. The infected program is called “Palm.Liberty.A” made by Gambit Studios. The shareware program lets users download and play games made for the Nintendo GameBoy handheld computer.

The infected Palm.Liberty.A program is being distributed over the Relay Chat, a network of Internet chatting channels. When run, the virus deletes all the programs on the user’s Palm device, though it leaves the address book data, calendar and other databases intact.

It is believed to be the first intentionally harmful virus for handheld computers. “It will definitely get attention. I believe we’ve opened a Pandora’s Box on some handheld devices,” said Symantec Anti-Virus Research Center director Vincent Weafer. Palm-based Handspring Visor computers are also affected by the virus.

Ironically, Aaron Ardiri, the Swedish software developer who wrote the virus was part of the team that developed the popular Liberty program. Ardiri said he created the program to delete unwanted programs without harming a user’s data. He said he gave an early version of the software to several friends, one of whom posted it on an Internet Relay Chat channel last week without Ardiri’s knowledge. “The whole purpose of my research was to investigate anti-cracking, and assist developers stop cracking.”

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