Symbian S60 SMS Exploit

If your phone uses Symbian S60 (see the list below) then it’s vulnerable to a new threat some people are calling the curse of silence.

It happens when someone sends you a specially formatted SMS. Some phones that receive this special SMS stop working properly – they won’t receive any more SMSs (it crashes the SMS messaging system inside the phone).

On some phones this means it just doesn’t receive any more messages and it won’t tell you there’s anything wrong. On other phones there will be a message that says:

Not enough memory to receive message(s). Delete some data first

The SMS that causes this to happen can’t be seen in the phone’s inbox, so you can’t delete it.

Turning the phone off and on sometimes lets you receive one message before it stops working again – this seems to vary depending on the phone model.

It’s also good to know that making and receiving calls still works.

What can you do?

It’s not a common problem yet and hopefully it won’t become one. For now it requires someone to send you the special SMS – it doesn’t spread by itself like viruses do.

It’s also a good idea to make a backup of your phone’s data now before anything bad happens. Some phones have an option to do this easily. Consult your phone’s instruction manual for more info.

If your phone is affected your choices are fairly limited at the moment.

  • You can perform a hardware reset on the phone. You will lose all data on the phone if you do this (phone book, messages, most probably photos, etc). Think carefully before doing this.
  • Phone manufacturers might release a firmware fix soon. Nobody’s promised anything yet.
  • Contact the company you bought the phone from, they might be able to help.
  • A security company called F-Secure has an antivirus package for mobile phones that they say can fix the problem. They also have a 7 day free trial that you could try. Apparently you need to download their program directly from the phone. Link here: http://mobile.f-secure.com/downloads/trial/index.html

More Info:

There’s a video on YouTube that demonstrates how it works. Link here.

Phones at risk:

Nokia: E63, 5800, N85, N79, E66, E71, 5320, 6220, N78, N96, 6210, N82, E51, N81, N95, 6121, 6120, 5700, N77, E90, E61i, E65, 6110, N76, N93i, 6290, N75, E62, E50, 5500, N93, N73, N72, N92, N71, N80, E70, E61, E60, 3250, N91, N70, N90, 6682, 6681, 6680, 3230, 6670, 6630, 6260, N-Gage QD, 7610, 6620, 3660, 3620, 6600, 3600, N-Gage, 3650, 7650

LG: KT615, KT610, KS10

Samsung: I7110, INNOV8, SGH-L870, SGH-G810, SGH-i560, SGH-i550, SGH-i450, SGH-i400, SGH-i520, SGH-D730, SGH-D720

Panasonic: X800, X700

Lenovo: P930

Siemens: SX1

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