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First virus for Windows CE surfaces

Code's author, part of group that created Symbian virus, creates gentle bug to prove it can be done.

A virus that infects Windows CE has been developed--the first such bug discovered for the handheld operating system, according to one firm.

BitDefender, based in Romania, stated that it has discovered a "proof of concept" virus for Microsoft's operating system for smart phones and other handhelds. The malicious code's author, who uses the pseudonym Ratter, is part of the 29A VX group that created a virus for the Symbian OS.

BitDefender said it is the first known Windows CE virus. Microsoft could not be reached for comment.

"The same as the creators of Cabir (the virus for Symbian OS), the initiator has not designed it to propagate on a massive scale but rather to demonstrate that devices running Microsoft Windows CE can be infected by malicious code," Viorel Canja of BitDefender said in a prepared statement. "The code was first sent to antivirus experts instead of being released in the wild."

Several analysts have speculated that handhelds and even VoIP phones could become major targets for virus writers, but so far, massive outages have not occurred.

Users have to download a piece of software to propagate Cabir; experts have concluded that it won't get far.

The Windows CE virus displays a message box, asking for the user's permission to spread to other files.

Despite the paucity of wild viruses, antivirus companies and hardware manufacturers have been preparing products to make handhelds more secure in advance of a potential increase in attacks.