Although only the first faint indications of PDA virus activity have appeared, antivirus software vendors are already at work brewing up antidotes for this potentially troublesome problem.
Among these is F-Secure Corp., which is busily working to extend its antivirus expertise into the PDA world, and, just as determinedly, into the wireless domain, according to Tanya Candia, F-Secure's vice president of worldwide marketing.
Symantec and McAfee have also announced plans and products to address viruses that afflict PDAs and wireless devices. Activity became pronounced late this summer after the sighting of the first Palm OS Trojan horse.
Candia suggested that, as F-Secure is headquartered in Finland, a country with a great deal of wireless expertise, F-Secure may have a leg up on competitors as antivirus methods are mapped over to the world of wireless devices. In fact, F-Secure earlier this year acquired privately-held Modera Point Oy, another Finnish firm, in order to strengthen F-Secure's plan to extend its security architectures into the wireless space.
The company now offers content security software for WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) gateways and antivirus protection for Symbian EPOC devices. F-Secure also offers protection against the Palm OS Phage.963 virus and the Palm Liberty Trojan, both of which have come to the public's attention.
There is a bit of irony for antivirus folk at work protecting WAP environments, said Candia. "In this instance, it's about protecting things going out from the server," she noted. F-Secure offers software that scans WAP scripts going out to phones from WAP servers.
"The WAP phones themselves are not that intelligent, and there is no need for security on the phones themselves with the current protocol," said Candia. This will change greatly, she said, when the next version of WAP goes online.
And while there are no cases of WAP viruses to date, the potential threat is significant. "If a virus gets loose, it will spread a lot faster than anything in the PC world," said Candia.
F-Secure is making other uses of wireless technology as well. A new subscription offering, dubbed F-Secure Radar, uses wireless communications to broadcast news about viruses to the PDAs, mobile phones, and pagers of IT managers.
Among other activity at F-Secure comes word this week that the company has forged a deal with security specialist Finjan Software. Under the terms of the agreement, Finjan's SurfinShield Corporate product will integrate with F-Secure's antivirus security management console.
The result of the partnership is called SurfinShield for F-Secure Policy Manager, and customers who already own Finjan's behavior-monitoring security product will be able to use the new offering to manage multiple security products from a single console. The software combo allows proactive inspection of code behavior -- especially the activity of
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