Killer Mobile Phone Virus

I'm a bit late with this, but I see (via Fortean Times) that last month Reuters reported that rumors were spreading around Pakistan and Afghanistan alleging that:
a deadly virus was being sent through mobile phones, and that anyone answering phone calls from some certain numbers would contract a fatal illness. The rumours claimed that "as soon as you answer your phone blood comes out of your mouth, nose and ears and you die"
The local phone companies were trying to calm people down, assuring them that it's impossible to contract a killer virus simply by answering your mobile phone.

This is not the first time such a rumor has been reported. The first time I saw it pop up was back in July 2004, when it was spreading around Nigeria. The rumor then was that a phone call from one of two numbers, either 0802 311 1999 or 0802 222 5999, would cause instant death. An Agence France Presse reporter bravely dialed both numbers, but survived.

Next the rumor surfaced in India in 2006. The rumor now warned of "devil calls" which, when received, would cause mobile phones to explode like bombs, killing their owners.

Of course, the real danger is not a killer phone virus. Instead, it's the relentless spread of the unstoppable gullibility virus.

Mass Delusion Technology Urban Legends

Posted on Fri May 18, 2007


Posted by Unfairly Balanced  in  Earth  on  Fri May 18, 2007  at  03:03 AM
the stephen king book "cell" featured an evil mobile phone-transmitted virus that essentially turned people into zombies. he himself doesn't use a mobile, apparently, so he's safe from such dangers
Posted by katherine  in  perth, western australia  on  Fri May 18, 2007  at  03:07 AM
I wonder if in the case of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the fear originates in an assassination fear. A cellphone booby-trapped with explosives by a secret service agent is one way to get rid of an adversary. The Mossad used this tactic at least once (I've been trying to find some info on the net with details but couldn't so far, I remember it being in the news ta that time however).
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Fri May 18, 2007  at  05:14 AM
If they have your number, they call you and let the missile home in on your phone.
No booby trap. It
Posted by Unfairly Balanced  in  Earth  on  Fri May 18, 2007  at  06:22 AM
Yes, that's been done too, but there has also been at least one case where they actually hid an explosive charge in a cellphone, and triggered it while the target took a call (and hence had the phone against his head).
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Fri May 18, 2007  at  01:27 PM
This proves it!! Technology is EVIL!! Everyone, abandon technology and return to the primitive lifestyle of our ancestors who used simple clubs and spears to hund and fish, who gathered simple nuts and berries in season and who died before age thirty.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Fri May 18, 2007  at  02:01 PM
The way I heard LaMa's story, the assassination was done via a home phone before cell phones became popular. The agents first tapped the phone line and introduced heavy static. When the target called the company to complain, the call was intercepted and the agents sent their own man in as a repairman. He planted a radio-controlled explosive in the phone and left. Then a call was made asking for the target. When he came on line, the explosive was detonated.

Booby-trapping a cell phone might be harder.
Posted by Phred22  in  Beltsville, MD  on  Fri May 18, 2007  at  08:30 PM
LaMa, where did the assassins find room in a cell phone to put an explosive? Granted, early ones were larger but the components were larger as well. Then or now, the goal was to make the cell phone as small as possible to make them easy for the customers to use.

I think all this is based upon the use of cell phones to trigger IEDs in Iraq.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Fri May 18, 2007  at  10:18 PM
Very good Phred22. BTW it was one of the revenge assasinations after Munich (Olympic Games).
Posted by Unfairly Balanced  in  Earth  on  Sat May 19, 2007  at  02:34 AM
The Alex rider book Stormbreaker's(my son has read it)plot rotates around a transmission triggered virus in computers(smallpox I think).
But in a phone it is just plain impossible.
Posted by J  on  Sat May 19, 2007  at  03:22 AM
You could, I suppose, in a big bulky mobile phone (an old brick type or a satellite phone) rig a small vial of a disease like legionella to spray, or even just apply a sample of a disease that passes through touch to the earpiece. But the logistics are much harder than just, you know, killing someone. Normally.
Posted by Renquist  in  Glasgow, Scotland  on  Sat May 19, 2007  at  08:32 AM
Beasjt, Phred22 etc.: no, the case I remember was not after Munich but much more recent (somewhere around 2000, maybe 2 years either before or after that) and definitely included a cellphone. If my memory serves me plastic explosives were used. Note that you do not need a very large charge, a small hollow charge (a charge which has its's force focussed on one point) would do if the phone is next to the victim's head.
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Sun May 20, 2007  at  03:09 PM
LaMa, a shaped charge would take up more space per weight in the direction that the charge is to go. The phones today do not have enough space in them to have any amount of explosive that could do harm. First of all, the plastique would have to be in the receiver section where any extra weight would be extremely obvious, then the charge ould have to be long enough to allow the jet to form, which would make the receiver larger and bulkier, then it would have to be strong enough to blast through the wall of the cell phone (whhich may not be much) and then through the skull. You couldn't be sure that the person answering the phone will have the phone placed exactly properly. My guess is that it would take about an ounce of plastique and maybe a third of an inch to form hte jet. You might have to have multiple jets just to be sure at least one of them hits the ear hole so that it bypasses the bones int he skull. However, I've never worked with explosives so if someone else has sure knowledge of what it would take I will bow to their expertiese.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Sun May 20, 2007  at  03:42 PM
How much extra space is there in a cell phone, with all the electronics? How much of it could you pull out of the thing, yet still have the phone at least appear to be functional? To have an explosive in one, you'd need room for the explosive charge, the detonator, plus whatever sort of wiring you'd decide to use. At least you'd have an advantage in that you wouldn't need to include a receiver since you're basically building the bomb in the middle of one already. Plus you'd have a power source already there.

All in all, though, you wouldn't be able to have both a functioning cell phone and a worthwhile explosive device unless it was a very bulky phone model. It would still be unpleasant to have a small explosive charge go off in your hand as you held it up to your ear, but it would be unlikely (although possible) to actually be killed that way. It wouldn't be a worthwhile method to try to assassinate somebody, since the person would probably survive and would be warned.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Mon May 21, 2007  at  12:01 AM
Only use of cell phones in bomb making I know is as part of the detenator. You call, phone auto-answers and boom.
Posted by Unfairly Balanced  in  Earth  on  Mon May 21, 2007  at  01:58 AM
Still, it happened. It took me some time to find the sources, as it was way back (in internet terms) in 1996 it turns out. It concerned the assassination on 5 Jan 1996 of Yehiya Ayyash, "the engineer", at that time the leading Hamas bomb expert and believed to be responsible for at least 150 deaths. And he really was assassinated by means of explosives hidden in a cell phone:
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Mon May 21, 2007  at  02:09 AM
Also, I think all my Googling on "Hamas, bombs, assassination" etc. to retrieve information on the story probably has logged my IP and captured the interest already at certain places... ;-p
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Mon May 21, 2007  at  02:15 AM
I don't see the point! If you can get hold of a person's cell phone long enough to modify the electronics & rig it with explosives, then you probably also have the resources and the closeness to the victim neccessary to kill him in simpler, less bondesque ways.
Posted by eovti  in  Sandefjord, Norway  on  Mon May 21, 2007  at  03:26 PM
Sandefjord, the only point I can think of is that you owuld want an alibi. But even then it's lame. Maybe too many people have been conditioned by Hollywood movies.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Mon May 21, 2007  at  04:08 PM
The real cell-phone virus doesn't kill you, it just turns you into a blithering idiot with no manners who yaks constantly to your imaginary firends while ignoring those around you and causing traffic accidents all over the place. I think I'd rather be dead.
Posted by Big Gary  in  An Undisclosed Location  on  Mon May 21, 2007  at  07:29 PM
Eovti, it wouldn't make much sense if all you wanted to do was kill a person, but if you also wanted to keep your surviving enemies worried, it would be useful. If your own cell phone might be used against you, what other ordinary everyday object might be as well? And perhaps you'd even give up cell phones altogether, thus denying yourself of a useful tool? At least 99% of terrorism or counter-terrorism is psychological warfare.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Tue May 22, 2007  at  12:26 AM
erm...i just heard from my mum about this mobile phone exploding that badly injured some of the people that live in my neighbourhood, it's happened here too in cambodia i just dont understand how can a mobile phone explode when u answer a certain numbers..kanna weird, i dont really believe it,its sound like in some horror movie.
Posted by kila  in  cambodia  on  Wed Apr 23, 2008  at  08:22 PM
A new movie came out about when you pick up your phone you die within a certain amount of time. I'm wondering if this movie is loosely based on this rumor. Does anyone know?
Posted by StuffAccess  in  London  on  Thu Jun 19, 2008  at  08:20 PM
Yes, the review was true.Everybody should be aware with this spreading cell phone viruses.It is true that today, cell phone has been playing a vital role in everyone's life. Talking about cell phone, one of the largest cell phones carrying in the nation is the Sprint. Sprint does not take kindly to their database being hacked, and that's what Gary Morrow and Timothy Flowers (who worked in Sprint's billing department) did. The two said that they would eliminate cell phone bills for them, hacking into the database and messing with payment records so they didn
Posted by Jesus S.  on  Wed May 20, 2009  at  04:47 AM
I hate virus very much ! I t destroys badly !
Posted by sally  in  China  on  Sat Jun 06, 2009  at  12:42 AM
virus is destroyable , we must get rid of it !
Posted by Sally  in  China  on  Sat Jun 06, 2009  at  12:46 AM
Yes, the review was true. cell phone has been playing a vital role in everyone's life. Everybody should be aware with this spreading cell phone viruses. Technology is EVIL!! Everyone, abandon technology and return to the primitive lifestyle of our ancestors who used simple clubs and spears to hund and fish, who gathered simple nuts and berries in season and who died before age thirty.
Posted by Cellphones4us  in  USA  on  Sat May 01, 2010  at  12:56 AM
ya that's right,in many sim free mobile phones people are right to be concern about spread of mobile phone viruses,in mobile phones there is "hidden" or "undiscoverable" properties are available which protect your mobile phones for virus problem.
Posted by erica johnson  in  United Kingdom  on  Fri May 28, 2010  at  08:22 AM
I think virus mania again hits the world in 2010. I have already formatted my cell phone thrice in this year itself. Every time situation was more critical and serious. Don
Posted by SEO Jaipur  on  Wed Jun 23, 2010  at  08:35 PM living in northern india right now, and we have a similar rumor spreading around. i teach at an english medium school and all the children were talking about it. in all the local schools every one is talking. i live on a campus and one college student recieved a call from her village saying that 25 ppl alone had already died. they say its a virus from underground terrorists and that if the number on ur screen shows in the color red its got the virus. if u answer the phone sum kind of noise will hurt ur body so much that it will actually kill you...lame
Posted by daniella painter  in  navapur, india...(not indian)  on  Thu Aug 19, 2010  at  11:53 AM
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