23 Jul, 2005 | ComputersScience And TechnologyTdp

In the wake of the attacks on London the East Anglian Ambulance Service has come up with the idea of creating an entry in your mobile phonebook called ICE, which stands for In Case of Emergency. The idea was that, should you be unconscious or whatever, emergency services can look through the phonebook, see this entry and call your designated contact(s) to inform them of what’s going on (and possibly aid identity). Great idea. Yesterday, I got an email from my work colleagues saying that, actually, the whole thing was a setup for a mobile phone virus (or that someone was going to take advantage of it). The virus would look for an entry entitled ICE or I.C.E. and forward itself to that number. There’s two words for that: bull crap (and that’s me being nice).

Let’s set a few things straight. There are only a handful of known mobile viruses, none of which spread by phone calls or ringtones or text messages, but usually via bluetooth, which limits their range to about 30 metres. Added to which, should a virus make it into the open, its ability to spread is severely impinged by the different operating systems on each phone (most of the current viruses only infect 'smart phones'). Mobile phones aren’t like computers, most vendors use a completely different type of software, hell, its different depending on the model of phone you have. There’s no way someone could write something that could attack them all in the same way a virus designed to infect Windows computers (the bulk of computers and viruses) can’t infect computers running Apple’s OSX or Linux or anything else. So, if by some miracle someone managed to create a virus for, say, Nokias, it wouldn’t affect someone using a Samsung phone, in fact, it probably wouldn’t affect all of the Nokia phones, probably just a small percentage. Another hint that this whole thing is a hoax is the focus on the ICE listing in your phonebook. Why the hell would a virus need to look for a specific entry? It would be just as easy to pick one at random, or all of them, and send to that.

This, ladies and gentleman, is a hoax, an urban legend, and it’s trading on a perfectly good idea and stopping people from taking it up. Whoever started the hoax should be ashamed of themselves.