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Phage virus low threat to Palm users

First published: 23rd September 2000

Anti-virus developer Sophos advises that the first virus to infect the Palm operating system poses only a small threat to users.

The Palm/Phage virus (also known as PalmOS/Phage or PalmOS/Phage.963) infects Palm applications.

Recovery from this virus is possible by resetting your Palm and restoring its contents from a backup. Please note that by default Palms do not backup applications, only data. Sophos recommends that users keep a backup of their Palm applications as well as data.

At the time of writing the Phage virus has not been reported in the wild. Sophos researchers believe the virus is extremely unlikely to become widespread. Allan Dyer, Chief Consultant of Yui Kee Computing Ltd commented, "Phage overwrites Palm applications with itself, when they are run, they display a blank screen. Users, of course, notice this immediately, so it will not spread well. The real significance of Phage is that it demonstrates what is possible - this might be the first of many Palm viruses, like WM/Concept was the first of the Word Macro viruses, or the only one of its' type, like OS/2Vir_1 was for the OS/2 operating system."

Sophos Anti-Virus researchers are developing protection against this virus due to interest from the media and customers. If you want to be informed automatically when this protection is available make sure you are subscribed to Sophos' notification service.

"It has always been possible to write malicious software for the Palm operating system," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "This virus is a very low threat to Palm users. Those PDA users who follow safe computing guidelines are highly unlikely to be seriously affected. It remains to be seen if this is the first of many such viruses on palmtop computers." Safe computing guidelines can be found at http://www.sophos.com/virusinfo/articles/safehex.html


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