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Attacks/Breaches

'Phone Flu' Could Infect Mobile Devices

Researchers demonstrate ability of wireless devices to pass viruses through close proximity

Viruses and worms may spread between Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices in the same manner as flu viruses in humans, researchers say.

According to a news report, Christopher Rhodes, an expert on infectious diseases at Imperial College London, has partnered with Maziar Nekovee, a researcher at BT's research lab in Suffolk, U.K., to create a mathematical model to discern how a wireless computer worm could spread between portable devices.

In their study, the experts tested their theory in a crowd carrying Bluetooth-enabled phones. The people had to move in a line, and at a fixed speed. The researchers concluded that a phone infected with a virus has a fixed probability of infecting other devices while they are within range.

According to Rhodes, the spread of a wireless worm could be represented using a a standard mass-action mixing model -- a common tool for representing virus outbreaks. "The model is actually very similar to something like influenza," he said.

Experts are worried that a wireless worm might spread most efficiently in a busy setting, and might also hop between geographically distant locations via airplanes.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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