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McAfee Debuts Security Tools For Mobile Devices

Threats will grow as devices proliferate, wireless data networks become faster, and hackers become more experienced. (Courtesy: CRN)

McAfee Inc. Monday rolled out a security software platform for mobile devices, wrapping anti-virus, firewall, content filtering, anti-spam, and anti-spyware capabilities into a single package.

McAfee, a provider of intrusion prevention and risk management software, says it created VirusScan Mobile to address the growing number of security threats against mobile devices, such as viruses, worms, and Trojans. Many smart phones and PDAs now come standard with advanced functions, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Web browsing capabilities, which makes them vulnerable to those threats, says Drew Carter, senior product manager of mobile initiatives at McAfee.

McAfee claims it has the strongest mobile security portfolio compared to its competitors. For example, VirusScan Mobile can scan messages for threats and comes with a firewall that monitors all incoming and outgoing traffic. Mobile devices are vulnerable to attacks because users aren't behind a firewall, says Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Aberdeen Group.

Additionally, VirusScan Mobile supports feature phones, the standard lower-end cell phones. Other mobile security vendors design their products only around mobile devices with operating systems. The McAfee virus scans don't consume a lot of the devices' processing power, which means users can continue browsing the Web or using applications while the scans are working.

In the past two years, several mobile viruses have emerged. In 2004, a Symbian worm called Cabir appeared that replicated through an active Bluetooth connection. Later that year, Pocket PCs became targets of attacks called Duts, which spread each time infected programs were exchanged. In 2005, the Skulls virus shook smart-phone owners by disabling applications and replacing icons with skulls, disabling all functions on the phone except for incoming and outgoing calls.

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