Mobile antivirus products arrive in force

McAfee and F-Secure are squaring up with competing mobile antivirus offerings

Security vendors McAfee and F-Secure both launched mobile antivirus products on Monday in a bid to win a share of this growing market.

McAfee released VirusScan Mobile, its first antivirus product for mobile phones because, it says, the number of mobile malware incidents is set to grow. Last year, the CommWarrior virus, which spreads between Symbian Series 60 handsets, appeared in at least 15 countries, including the UK.

"The growth of mobile malware could be a very big problem in the future. Viruses such as CommWarrior affect both end users and operators. The virus crashes phones on an individual basis, while for operators it drives up traffic and causes network instability," said Drew Carter, senior product manager at McAfee.

Carter also admitted that McAfee had seen poor uptake of its antivirus product for PDAs, which it has now dropped in favour of VirusScan Mobile.

"We had a product for PDAs that wasn't nearly as successful as we'd hoped, because PC products already took care of PDA security as the PDA was an end device. This product ended today," said Carter. "The new product is focused on mobile devices rather than PCs, due to customer demand. A number of network operators and manufacturers are very interested in maintaining the integrity of their devices," Carter added.

McAfee VirusScan Mobile can either be embedded in a device before it ships or downloaded by an individual. Updates are pushed out to devices via the Internet, said McAfee.

The product costs $29.99 (£17.19) per user per year, while the enterprise version is $37.49 per user per year. McAfee are also launching Firewall Mobile for $29.99 or $34.99 when bundled with VirusScan Mobile. McAfee said the price could come down depending on the number of users within an organisation.

F-Secure launched F-Secure Mobile Anti-Virus 2.1 for Windows Mobile, on Monday, an application that updates virus definitions on a device.

Antti Vihavainen, vice-president for mobile security at F-Secure, said that it was important to offer antivirus protection to Windows Mobile users.

"This is a logical next step for our mobile antivirus product development and recognition of the great significance of Microsoft as a player in the mobile phone market," said Vihavainen in a statement, adding that he felt it likely that Windows Mobile would become a target for virus writers in the future.