Budget tools for mobile phone security

ZDNet Asia explores some tools to help keep mobile phone users' data secure, for situations ranging from virus scanning to Web surfing and misplacing the devices.

big-on-budget Tools to help secure mobile phones were virtually unheard of a few years ago, but today it may seem a tad unwise to not have some form of protection on handsets.

While mobile malware, exploits and annoyances are not as common as their PC counterparts, they are no doubt getting more common. Just last week, the Symbian Foundation allowed a phone Trojan to pass its digital-signing process. Handset manufacturer HTC last week also patched a Bluetooth driver flaw that could potentially expose a user's personal data.

A recent Cisco report also noted that SMS phishing scams were on the rise.

Whether the intention is to protect against carelessness, insecure code or malicious intent, users will find it valuable to have some tools on hand to help keep their data safe. ZDNet lists some free and cheap security options for mobile phone users on a budget.

Virus scanning and network policies
Major vendors offer a set of capabilities to help security administrators secure smartphones that access the corporate network. These tools are often catered for Symbian and Windows Mobile-based platforms.

For instance, the Symantec Mobile Security for Symbian and Symantec Mobile Security Suite for Windows Mobile provide virus-scanning, spam filtering and encryption, as well as offer centralized policy and management via a console.

Such software come at a cost, though. Symantec's two products have a recommended retail price of US$44 per device.

Surfing the Web
Trend Micro's Smart Surfing is a free iPhone app that blocks access to Web sites with malicious content by tapping on the vendor's cloud-based Smart Protection Network. Users can select different levels of protection and search results are color-coded for ease of identification.

Cleaning up infected mobiles
FortiCleanUp provides a set of tools that detects and removes infections from handsets without the need to perform a factory reset. The tools are available for various vulnerabilities, including Commwarrior, Beselo and Curse of Silence.

While it can be downloaded for free from the Fortinet Web site, it is targeted at customers of mobile operators that have deployed the company's network-based MMS protection.

Finding your phone
Products such as Kaspersky Mobile Security offer a "Find" function where you can tap on GPS technology and Google Maps to locate the whereabouts of the device. It costs US$29.95 for a one-year license.

According to mobile enthusiast and ZDNet Asia blogger Lee Lup Yuen, another tool with a similar feature is "Find My iPhone", which lets the phone's owner access the Apple MobileMe Web site to view the location of the device.

Locking and erasing data on stolen handsets
F-Secure's Mobile Security 5 for Windows includes anti-theft features such as remote lock and remote wipe using SMS. It also locks the device when the SIM card is changed. The software costs US$55 for a one-year license and US$82 for two years.

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