First Windows CE Virus Surfaces

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-07-17 Print this article Print

The "proof-of-concept" WinCE4.Dust Virus works only on ARM hardware and performs simple file infection.

The first known virus for the Windows CE operating system has been developed and sent to anti-virus companies. The virus, known as WinCE4.Dust, does no direct damage to the system. When its executed, according to descriptions from several anti-virus companies, it asks, "Dear User, am I allowed to spread?" Symantec notes that if the user responds affirmatively, "it will attempt to append itself to all non-infected EXE files in the directory which it is currently running." F-Secures analysis of the virus indicates that it only infects files larger than 4,096 bytes.

A variety of spellings of the virus name are being used, including "Dust," "Duts" and "Dtus." A screen shot of a file dump of a portion of the virus in F-Secures analysis shows the quote "This code arose from the dust of Permutation City" embedded in the virus.
The analysis declares this to be the origin of the virus name, but then goes on to call it both Duts and Dtus. The virus also contains this string: "This is proof of concept code. Also, i wanted to make avers happy. The situation when Pocket PC antiviruses detect only EICAR file had to end ..."

The first report of the virus came from BitDefender, whose Lab Director Viorel Canja said: "This is a common excuse for virus writers, to pretend that they create viruses in order to make avers [anti-virus producers] happy. Making viruses doesnt make anyones life happier, as its making it harder and harder to live for the ordinary user."

For insights on security coverage around the Web, check out Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog. Similar proofs of concept for new platforms have emerged in the past, but they were not necessarily followed by actual attacks. Just last month a conceptual virus for cell phones running the Symbian operating system was developed.

Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at for the latest security news, reviews and analysis.

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Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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