GSM Nets in U.S. Appear Free of Cell Phone Virus

BOSTON (06/07/2000) - Providing an initial indicator that a sigh of relief may be in order, two U.S. wireless telephone carriers that operate networks based on the European GSM mobile phone standard have confirmed they haven't contracted the Love-Bug-like virus that has appeared in a phone network in Spain.

According to published reports, a mobile phone virus called "ILoveYou" surfaced yesterday in the Spanish wireless network operated by Telefonica SA in Madrid.

Like the PC virus that caused havoc worldwide last month, the mobile phone virus is an e-mail attachment.

The attachment in this case is to a message sent to a GSM cell phone. Once opened, it replicates itself by sending messages to all entries in a user's book - as well as to a randomly dialed number.

A spokeswoman for Pacific Bell Wireless, a unit of Dallas-based SBC Communications Inc., said the company's engineers hadn't detected the ILoveYou virus in the company's network. SBC has 11 million wireless subscribers, but only an undisclosed potion of those use GSM technology.

Powertel Inc. in West Point, Georgia, which operates a GSM network in 12 southern states, hadn't been affected by the ILoveYou virus as of late yesterday, according to a company spokesman.

The Stuttgart, Germany-based European Command of the U.S. Department of Defense, which has bases in Spain, is "well aware" of the mobile phone virus, a spokesman said. But he couldn't say whether the Command had detected the virus or detail what measures it had taken to protect itself.

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