Cell phones to get virus protection

Kaspersky Lab plans to release antivirus software for Symbian-based cell phones, recently the target of a Trojan and the Cabir virus.

HANNOVER, Germany--Antivirus company Kaspersky Lab is preparing to release antivirus software for smart phones that use the Symbian operating system.

Cell phone viruses are still relatively rare, but Kaspersky's move into mobile antivirus software shows it expects more to break out in the future.

Earlier this week, a Trojan horse was found that targets Nokia Series 60 phones, which use Symbian. And last week, a smart phone virus called Cabir infected a handset in France, the 17th country to report an incident involving the malicious software.

Kaspersky's Anti-Virus for Symbian OS, which is in open beta testing, enables people to set their phone to receive regular antivirus updates. Alternatively, they can download the updates manually from the WAP section of Kaspersky's Web site. The cell phone security software includes a monitor to intercept viruses as they arrive and a scanner that looks for malicious code on request, according to Kaspersky.

However, the software only protects devices running versions 6.1 and 7.0 of Symbian, and not the latest version, 9.0, which was launched last month. It's not clear what plans Kaspersky has to protect Symbian 9.0 phones.

The company has pledged to give a free version of the software to anyone who participates in testing.

Dan Ilett of ZDNet UK reported from Hannover, Germany.