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Trend Micro Hopes To Spread Mobile Antivirus

By Susan B. Shor
Dec 6, 2004 9:34 AM PT

Trend Micro is giving away its antivirus and anti-spam software for smartphones until June, the company announced today, but how necessary that software is remains unclear.

Trend Micro Hopes To Spread Mobile Antivirus

"It's a solution in search of a problem," analyst Ed Moyle of SecurityCurve told TechNewsWorld.

Moyle added, however, that the software will provide enterprises with a useful way to gain more control over employee devices that access their networks.

Trend Micro Mobile Security Version 1.0 for the Windows Mobile 2003 operating system is available now. Devices using Symbian 7.0, Pocket PC and Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition will be supported in starting in January.

Phone Viruses

The software protects against viruses and SMS spam messages. The first mobile phone worm, Cabir, was discovered in June and targeted phones using Symbian.

A second virus, Skulls Trojan, also targeted Symbian on Nokia 7610 phones, and last month a variant of Skulls Trojan was discovered. The original version disabled smart-phone functionality, such as SMS and MMS messaging, Web browsing and the built-in camera. The later variant also infects the phone with Cabir, which uses Bluetooth to copy itself onto devices as far as 30 feet away.

Diversity Slows Viruses

Because there are so many different phone platforms and different software within the platforms, Moyle said, mobile phone viruses face more barriers to proliferation. Different model phones within the same family often use different software as well.

"To get viruses to spread as quickly as PC viruses, the virus would have to be pretty intelligent, and most aren't," Moyle explained.

But the consolidation of mobile operating systems and standards will change that.

"Trend Micro is betting that we will see more viruses as phone platforms standardize, and [that] users will already be standardized on Trend," he said.

Spam-Blocking

The spam feature of the package may be immediately more interesting, because bandwidth is money. Software that can prevent unwanted messages from coming through will save users cash.

Trend Micro's Version 1.0 will expire at the end of June. After that, users will have to pay for updates. FB-4, a provider of security applications for Symbian smartphones, includes Virus Guard on some phones sold in North America. Airscanner, F-Secure and Symantec also offer versions of mobile security software.

In October Japanese company Japanese NTT DoCoMo and Network Associates announced they were working together to develop antivirus software for mobile phones.


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