Many Hong Kong mobile phones were infected by a vicious virus recently when their owners followed the instruction in a text message to click on a web link to see a group photo, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
A victim surnamed Liu was quoted as saying he received such a text message, in simplified Chinese, the other day.
It read, “The group photo for our previous gathering is now ready. Click on the web address shown — is.gd/baidu2c — to see it”.
As the message came from his wife’s phon, Liu clicked on the link.
No photo appeared, but his phone immediately started sending text messages to all the people in his contact directory. It took about half an hour before it stopped.
After Liu removed the link, he called his telecom service operator and learned that at least 300 text messages had been sent out from his phone, including some to foreign countries.
He was told he would be charged for all the messages.
Dr. Karl Leung Ping-hung, dean of the department of information and communications technology at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Tuen Mun), said the link may infect the phone with not just a normal virus but spyware as well.
While there may be no obvious symptoms after a phone is infected, the user could not only be charged for text messaging fees but also fall victim to hackers, who may collect data in the phone directory and then resell it for a profit, Leung said.
He said it is also possible that hackers could even remotely control the infected phone and steal records of financial transactions and bank account information contained in it.
Leung warned that it is very dangerous to download items or click on web links from unidentified sources.
He recommended that users install anti-virus software to protect their phones.
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