Report

Understanding the Spreading Patterns of Mobile Phone Viruses

Science  22 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5930, pp. 1071-1076
DOI: 10.1126/science.1167053

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Abstract

We modeled the mobility of mobile phone users in order to study the fundamental spreading patterns that characterize a mobile virus outbreak. We find that although Bluetooth viruses can reach all susceptible handsets with time, they spread slowly because of human mobility, offering ample opportunities to deploy antiviral software. In contrast, viruses using multimedia messaging services could infect all users in hours, but currently a phase transition on the underlying call graph limits them to only a small fraction of the susceptible users. These results explain the lack of a major mobile virus breakout so far and predict that once a mobile operating system’s market share reaches the phase transition point, viruses will pose a serious threat to mobile communications.

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