Written by Phil Maggitti
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Topics: San Francisco, Virus

Monday, 21 February 2005

image for Mobile Phone Virus Found in US
The Cabir virus takes text messages out of context.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Cabir, the first in-the-wild mobile phone virus discovered in the United States, is set to wreak havoc on the lives of teen-agers, SUV drivers, and text-messaging office workers across the land. Appearing on "Meet the Press" yesterday, Verizon's James Earl Jones hinted that Cabir may be the latest Al-Qaeda attempt to undermine truth, justice, and the American way-either that or Catherine Zeta Jones (no relation) is responsible.

"Our constitutional right to free speech and free minutes is under attack," rumbled Jones in his ponderous and grating fashion. "We are the target of a godless power that hates us because of our dedication to the Family Plan."

The Cabir virus was first discovered a week ago by the night janitor at E.T. Phone Home, a technology boutique in Santa Monica, California. Jason Fetters, 22, had just finished vacuuming near a display case containing mobile phones when a Nokia 3390 suddenly emitted a garish blue light and began playing Green Day's "American Idiot" ring tone at ear-shattering volume.

"I was like, ‘Whoa, dude, maybe I shouldn't have done that last bong hit before I came to work,' you know," said Fetters, a speech-and-communication major at Santa Monica Community College.

After local police had subdued the phone, it was air lifted to Stanford University's mobile electronics lab in Palo Alto, where scientists grilled the phone intensely for twenty-four hours.

"I can't tell you how we got the phone to talk, but eventually it spilled its guts," said chief interrogator Jacquin Spinoza, Ph.D. "I can say that the Cabir virus functions only when a mobile phone is turned on. Somebody in the store must have been playing with the phone and then returned it to the display case without turning it off."

According to Spinoza, the Cabir is one of the long-feared "breakout" viruses, which are particularly dangerous because they don't depend on shoddy Microsoft code in order to survive and prosper. Cabir spreads from one phone to another during conversations exceeding one minute or text-messaging sessions in which the letter "u" (either upper- or lower-case) replaces the word "you."

Among its more dastardly effects, the Cabir virus replaces ring tones with Green Day's "American Idiot," R.E.M.'s "The Final Straw," Rage Against the Machine's "Street Fighting Man," and other anti-establishment ring tones.

The Cabir virus is also capable of increasing ring tone volume, increasing silent vibrator frequency, flooding an inbox with telemarketing text messages, over-reporting anytime minute usage, forwarding calls to the White House, and creating potentially embarrassing random conference calls.

"Like I was talking to my connection last night, you know," said Fetters, "when all of a sudden, like, my father and my parole officer were patched into the conversation. Pretty scary, dude."

In related news, "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno is credited with telling the world's first Cabir virus joke: "Are you happy to see me or is that your virus-infected cell phone going off?"

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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