Antivirus leaders update PDA protection

By Cameron Crouch, PC World |  Hardware

Although there have been only a handful of PDA (personal digital assistant) viruses, both leading antivirus-tool vendors expect their numbers to grow, and are already updating their security programs.

Network Associates Inc.'s McAfee division is releasing VirusScan Wireless 2.0, an antivirus program designed to protect devices running Palm, Pocket PC, and Symbian EPOC operating systems from viruses. And on March 20, Symantec Corp. is shipping Symantec AntiVirus 2001 for the Palm OS. Both VirusScan Wireless 2.0 and Symantec AntiVirus are designed to protect personal digital assistants from viruses received over wireless connections or during synchronization with the PC.

VirusScan Wireless 2.0 lets you protect your handheld from viruses in infrared transferred files and applications, and in data retrieved via wireless Internet applications, McAfee says in a statement. It lets you scan for viruses and malicious code on a handheld device during synchronization with a PC, and directly on the device.

Viruscan Wireless 2.0 costs US$28 per node for 500 nodes, and VirusScan Wireless is also available as a hosted service from McAfee.com.

Room to grow

Available on March 20 as a download, Symantec AntiVirus 2001 for Palm will cost $39.95, with a $10 rebate for Norton Antivirus customers. It will also be sold as part of the $59.95 Norton AntiVirus 2001 Professional Edition.

Symantec AntiVirus 2001 for the Palm scans applications locally on the Palm device. The scanning engine is designed to work on the Palm. It scans in real time and on demand, in order to examine all applications in the device, says Laura Garcia Manrique, Symantec senior product manager.

Today, Symantec AntiVirus for the Palm only has three virus definitions in its database for the only three known PDA viruses, Garcia Manrique says. But it also includes an auto-update feature that easily retrieves the latest definitions as they become available, she says.

"When you install it on the PC, it detects when you have an Internet connection, checks research, and download updates," Garcia Manrique says. "Those are then transferred to the Palm the next time you HotSync."

McAfee VirusScan Wireless already supports Pocket PC and EPOC as well as Palm platform.

As for Symantec, "Pocket PC and other operating systems are on the horizon," Garcia Manrique says.

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