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Commwarrior cell phone virus marches on

Recently spotted in an eighth country, the virus is attached to premium cell phone e-mail that appears "friendly" to recipients.

Network security experts F-Secure say there's a relatively simple reason why even the savviest cell phone owners are falling prey to a new virus.

Phone owners are duped because the virus, known as Commwarrior, is attached to premium cell phone e-mail known as MMS, which makes incoming e-mail look as if it was sent by someone the victim knows, according to F-Secure's analysis of an interview with a Commwarrior victim in Finland.

"People just are unwilling to mistrust something coming from a friend," F-Secure representative Marie Clark wrote in an e-mail.

F-Secure's findings come on the heels of a survey of 300 American adults by security company Symantec in which 73 percent of the respondents said they knew cell phones were targeted by virus writers.

Discovered last January in Ireland, Commwarrior has since been spotted in at least eight countries. That tally pales in comparison to the toll taken by the virus known as Cabir, which has been spotted in two dozen countries, making it the most destructive cell phone virus to date.

The Commwarrior virus reads the user's local address book for phone numbers and starts sending MMS messages containing infected files. MMS, or multimedia message service, accommodates messages that are a mix of audio, video and text. Aside from MMS, the virus also can spread through Bluetooth connections.