Worm breakout in North America may be indication of emerging trend.
A mobile worm that earns its authors money by encouraging users to download legitimate software has been discovered in North America by security firm AdaptiveMobile.
Selfmite spreads itself through download links to "The Self Timer" app sent via text message to an infected phones’ contacts. This encourages users to download app manager Mobogenie, which it is believed the hacker is trying to push.
Denis Maslennikov, security analyst at AdaptiveMobile, said: "Using our unique focus on network-to-handset security, we were able to detect this infection early, limiting the harm done by Selfmite.
"At the moment North America seems to be the most targeted territory."
He added that worms for mobile had previously been rare, but the emergence of Selfmite and a similar piece of malware called Samsapo in Russia may indicate a new trend.
Worms differ from other forms of malware in that they tend to be self-replicating, and often put a strain on networks rather than attacking computers. However a ‘payload’ can be added to worms that performs malicious actions on a target system, such as file deletion.
"To redirect users to the Mobogenie app, the Selfmite worm uses an advertising platform," Maslennikov added.
"Therefore, we believe that an unknown registered user of the advertising platform abused a legal service and attempted to increase the number of Mobogenie app installations using malicious software."
AdaptiveMobile said it had contacted Google, which has disabled the download link to the malware.