March of the zombie phones

Hackers might have worked out a way of turning mobile phones into a botnet of zombies.

Until now no botnet has ever been discovered running on mobile devices. However, security firm Symantec says that a piece of software known as Sexy Space may be the first case.

Sexy Space uses text messages reading “A very sexy girl, Try it now!” The messages contains a link that, when clicked, asks the user to download software.

The software reads the person’s contact list and sends an SMS to all of them with the same message.

While irritating SMS spam has been out there a while, Symantec said that that this one was unusual because it was controlled by a central server.

This means that the hackers could control the mobile phones in much the same way botnets do. So far Symantec has not found out if the phones are responding to remote commands, but if they do then the hackers will have created the first phone botnet.

Zulfikar Ramzan, Symantec’s technical director of security response, said that it is not clear how Sexy Space will use the connection to the central server.

It appears that Sexy Space is nowhere near as sophisticated as the PC botnet software which is out there. However it could signal the start of what could be a bleak time of outrageous SMS bills for infected users.