Symantec Debuts AntiVirus for Handhelds

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Symantec Corp., well known for its anti-virus software for desktops and laptops, has announced a group of applications for handhelds. These will protect Palm OS and Pocket PC devices against viruses, worms, and other malicious code.

Symantec AntiVirus for Handhelds will provide both real-time and on-demand scanning. In addition, it will also introduce LiveUpdate Wireless. This new feature will allow users with a wireless Internet connection download virus definitions and Symantec product updates directly to their device over the Web.

It will provide real-time scans through Auto-Protect, which will run continuously in the background. Auto-Protect will scan for viruses when files are downloaded and when email attachments are received. It will also run when a malicious program tries to execute. Automatic scans, in turn, will run after synchronizations as well as after expansion cards are inserted into the handheld device. On-demand scans will run at the user’s discretion.

Is this necessary?

At this time, there are no viruses in circulation that can affect handhelds of either platform. However, as Steve Cullen, senior vice president of Consumer and Client Product Delivery at Symantec, says, “As handheld devices are used in more homes and corporations, they make an increasingly attractive target platform for viruses and malicious code.” And the growth in Wi-Fi and other wireless networking methods means many more handhelds are directly connecting to the Internet, putting them at additional risk.

There are two ways to look at the situation. In the optimistic viewpoint, anti-virus software is unnecessary because there are no viruses. In the pessimistic view, they are necessary because the first well-written virus is likely to do a great deal of damage, as industry experts estimate that only one percent of handhelds have virus protection.

One of the reasons users have passed on anti-virus software is many handhelds have small amounts of memory, and the users didn’t think there was enough to spare on something they weren’t sure they needed in the first place. Symantec says its software has a small enough footprint that it will be unobtrusive.

There will be three versions of Symantec AntiVirus for Handhelds: an Annual Service Edition, a Corporate Edition, and a Corporate Edition with Event and Configuration Manager.

The Annual Service Edition will cost $39.95 for the first year and $19.95 each year thereafter. When the annual subscription period ends, so does virus protection. It will be available in retail stores in the near future or can be pre-ordered now from directly from the Symantec Store.

The Corporate Edition will include a desktop application to help monitor the handheld. It will also allow users to schedule scans to run daily, weekly, monthly, or on a specified date. In addition, the Corporate Edition will let users who attach more than one handheld device to their PC monitor those devices from the desktop.

The Corporate Edition with Event and Configuration Manager will include additional functionality for centralized logging, alerting, and reporting.

Those interested in licensing either of the corporate editions should contact Symantec Enterprise Solutions.



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