January 10, 2001, 3:16 PM — SOFTWARE MAKER COMPUTER Associates International has made a working production version of its anti-virus software for the Palm OS handheld computer available for free download, the company announced Wednesday.
Computer Associates' anti-virus program -- InoculateIT for the Palm OS -- is immediately available from the company Web site at www.ca.com/products/inoculateit/palm.htm, according to CA's announcement. InoculateIT works on handheld computers running PalmOS Version 3.0 or later, including most Palm III, Palm V, and Palm VII series handhelds, the Palm m100 handheld, and Handspring Visor and Visor Deluxe computers.
Anti-virus vendors are just beginning to address virus threats on PDAs, said Simon Perry, CA's vice president for security solutions. "It's really only in the last few months that the threat has become real ... and it's only just started," he said. "You've only got three real viruses out there ... the bigger threat is consumer fear and the erosion of confidence in the platform."
Consumers already are loath to put mission-critical information on a PDA, according to analysts.
"Anyone who has backed over their PalmPilot, dropped their PalmPilot, or flushed their PalmPilot down the toilet knows that it is imprudent for the PalmPilot to be the database of record," said Frank Prince, a senior analyst at the technology market research firm Forrester Research.
Researchers found three viruses in September affecting Palm OS handhelds. The "Liberty" crack Trojan horse program can wipe all the files from a Palm handheld computer. The Palm "Vapor," virus, another Trojan horse, renders all third-party application icons invisible, appearing as if they had been deleted. The more malicious "Palm OS/Phage" virus fills a device's screen with a gray box, crashes the application that is running, and then replicates itself.
Symantec released a beta-test version of its Antivirus for Palm OS in September. The software can be downloaded for free from Symantec's Web site at www.symantec.com/avcenter/palmscanner.html. Islandia, N.Y.-based CA's Palm OS anti-virus is out of the testing phase and, at 4KB, is one-third the size of Symantec's, CA's Perry said.