NEWS FROM THE LAB - Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hoax about "ICE" phone entries Posted by Mikko @ 14:28 GMT

ICE entry on a phone
A new idea has been gaining momentum, especially after the London bombings: people are being urged to add a new entry to their mobile phones with the name "ICE" (acronym for 'In Case of Emergency').

The idea is that if you're hurt, rescuers can easily figure out who they should contact - by calling the 'ICE' number from your phone (assuming they can access it).

This is a good idea. The only slight problem in using it is a practical one: on many phones if you have the same number listed under several names (for example, as "ICE" and as "Lisa"), the phone won't know which name to show for an incoming call and will only show the number. Which is a slight annoyance.

However, now some brain-dead pranksters have started a chain-letter email warning against such practice, because a mobile phone virus might exploit it. This is nonsense. No viruses to exploit the "ICE" number exist or are likely to exist. There are viruses already that go through the full phone book and attack every number.

Here's an example of a typical hoax message:

  You know the email that's gone round saying put ICE then a contact
  number in case of emergency? Well don't do it cos....
  Be very careful with this one - although the intention is great it is unfortunately
  phase one of a phone based virus that is laying a path for propagating very quickly.
  Passing it on is part of the virus interestingly, such is the deviousness of the people
  who write these things.
  We have already seen the "second phase" where a program is sent as part of a
  ring-tone download that goes into your address book and looks for something it
  recognises - you've guessed it, an address book entry marked "ICE or I.C.E."
  or whatever. It then sends itself to the "ICE list", charging you for the privilege.

Ignore this hoax message and don't forward it if you get it.