A popular form of communication used by individuals having mobile telephones, it refers to the sending of short text messages from one mobile phone user to another using the SMS standard. The advantages of text messaging are that users can communicate with each other without going online, and it is a rather less intrusive and less expensive means of communicating as compared to speaking on the cell phone or the family phone. An asynchronous form of communication, instant text messaging (IM) is rapidly taking over as a popular way for teens and other early technology adopters to communicate with one another. According to pollsters at Ipsos-Reid, the home telephone and instant text messaging are virtually tied as teenagers’ favorite means of communication—45% and 44%, respectively. Only 6% of the teens surveyed in the 2004 Ipsos-Reid poll said that email was their favorite means of communicating, and only 4% said they preferred speaking with other teens on their cell phones.
Mobile phones and text messaging are susceptible to being hit by worms and viruses. For example, on March 10, 2005, Trend Micro issued a medium risk alert regarding two new worms that seemed to be attracted to MSN Messenger, an instant-messaging platform used by many teens and adults to communicate with one another. In particular, the worms Kelvir.b and fatso.a were reported in both Asia Pacific and the United States. These worms, having an adverse impact on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000 and XP, spread to online MSN Messenger users on infected systems having links to Websites where users unwittingly downloaded bot programs. These bot programs were able to open back doors into networks. The bad news for affected cell phone users was that these worms drained their cellular phone batteries, and a bill for the text messaging that went on without authorization was sent to users.
In the past, viruses attacking cellular phones spread only through Bluetooth wireless connections, but these new threats are greater because they can spread through text messages. Consumers first learned in 2004 that cellular phones could, like their computers, be victimized by viruses. Then, a worm named Cabir emerged; it used Bluetooth wireless connections to spread.
Because IM is so widely used in modern-day corporate environments, it has become a risk to both public and corporate environment IM networks. In a white paper found at http://list .windowsitpro.com/t?ctl=48BA:4FB69, IM users can discover how to protect themselves from virus and worm attacks as well as from identity theft.
In Brief. Teens Turn to Net. The Globe and Mail, December 2, 2004, p. B11; Learnthat.com. Text Messaging Definition. [Online, December 8, 2004.] Learnthat.com Website. http://www.learnthat.com/define/view.asp?id=341; In Brief. Trend Micro Warns About Worms in MSN Messenger. The Globe and Mail, March 10, 2005, p. B10; McLean, C. Telecom: New Virus Threatens Cellphones, Experts Warn. The Globe and Mail, March 9, 2005, p. B7; Penton Media, Inc. Managing and Securing IM in the Enterprise: Why It Should Be a Top Priority. [Online, March 19, 2005.] Penton Media, Inc. Website. http://list.windowsitpro .com/t?ct=48BA:4FB69.