Security Products for Mobile Devices

Wednesday, November 21, 2007 Labels:
Security rivals Symantec and McAfee are hitting the market with competing products aimed at protecting mobile platforms.

Symantec announced the launch of Norton Smartphone Security Nov. 20, which supports both Windows Mobile and Symbian OS and leverages Norton Antivirus technology and provides a firewall and anti-spam for SMS (Short Message Service). The move comes on the heels of the Nov. 19 announcement of McAfee's VirusScan Mobile.

In a McAfee-sponsored study released in February, Informa Telecoms and Media reported that 83 percent of the 200 mobile operators surveyed have been hit by mobile device infections, and that nearly half of the operators that have experienced mobile malware outbreaks have had one within the last three months. However, the same study reported only five incidents where more than 100,000 mobile devices were affected by malware—a drop in the bucket compared to the number of mobile device users. Most of the incidents involved between 100 and 1,000 devices, according to the study.

As more people use mobile devices for financial transactions and to access personal data, hackers will follow the money right into the mobile world, said Vincent Weafer, senior director of development at Symantec. When people initially thought about threats to mobile devices, they tended to focus on more traditional threats such as worms and viruses, he said.

"But the reality is we kind of passed that over towards what is more relevant in a fraud-driven economy, where people are looking to steal your identity, your assets, your PIN numbers," he said in an interview with eWEEK. "When will this occur in the U.S.? When people start significantly doing online transactions rather than simply using their cell phones for downloading ringtones and making calls."

The release of McAfee VirusScan Mobile makes good on McAfee's "Triple Play" offer, and consumers who buy McAfee Total Protection or McAfee Internet Security Suite get McAfee VirusScan Mobile at no additional charge.

McAfee VirusScan Mobile supports Microsoft Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone and Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition devices, and offers protection against threats targeting SMS, MMS (multimedia message service) and e-mail by scanning inbound and outbound data for malicious code and monitoring and analyzing mobile data and files.

"Mobile Internet use, which now involves everything from e-mail to payments and mobile security, will become of greater importance as threats evolve," Todd Gebhart, senior vice president and general manager of McAfee consumer, mobile and small business, said in a statement. "While not yet widespread, McAfee Avert Labs has identified 450 different mobile threat variants, including viruses and spyware that can threaten devices and personal information."



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