The Shanghai Daily News reports that more than one million cellphones in China have been infected with a "zombie" virus that automatically sends spam text messages to those listed on the user's address book.
According to the report, the virus is currently costing Chinese consumers a combined 2 million yuan ($300,000 USD) per day, and began infecting phones at the beginning of September, racking in one million infections in the first week.
The virus is hidden in a bogus anti-virus app identical to a solution provided by Sichuan Province-based developer Chendu Qimiao. Naturally the company claims no responsibility for the underlying malware, indicating that it's impossible to distinguish the legit app from the infected one. The company also added that business had been affected by the virus just by association alone.
The virus works by sending the user's SIM card information to hackers. The hackers thus take control of the device by remote and send texts to everyone in the phone's address book. The mass infection spreads in a similar manner to email-based malware: the message contains a pay-per-click ad from a trusted family member, friend or colleague. Click on the link, and the phone is infected with the virus, thus repeating the process.
Currently it's unclear how the virus epidemic actually started, or what mobile platform is the most susceptible. However the new infection joins the ranks of ten other similar pieces of malware that have emerged since September, some of which can evade anti-virus software.