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RealTime IT News

McAfee, DoCoMo Inoculate 3G Phones

Security specialist McAfee and wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo announced a pre-installed antivirus service to protect against future attacks.

McAfee will provide the Tokyo-based wireless giant's users with McAfee, VirusScan content-scanning technology as a built-in service on their FOMA 901i series 3G mobile phones.

"This is the first truly integrated solution handset," Victor Kouznetsov, vice president of McAfee Mobile Solutions, said.

The McAfee VirusScan technology in the FOMA mobile phones is designed to protect against present and future mobile threats, Kouznetsov said. Kouznetsov expects the technology to hit the U.S. and European markets within the next two years.

Though viruses are not yet a major problem on mobile phone handsets, which operate on closed networks, security firms and industry analysts expect attacks to increase in the coming years.

As mobile communication services expand globally, and as their functionality also increases, handset architecture is expected to use more unified operating systems, standardizations, and open specifications. As a result, mobile technology could become increasingly vulnerable to attacks.

Recent mobile viruses proved hackers are looking toward the mobile phone market as the next phase of sabotage. The 'Cabir' virus released last June, targeted Nokia handsets on the Symbian OS, and the Dust virus in July focused on PDAs using Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS.

By Internet standards, these viruses were tame; both required user approval before downloading to a phone, but experts warn the early attempts will likely spawn more virulent and complicated strains.

Since January 2002, NTT DoCoMo and McAfee have collaborated with the understanding that security is becoming an increasingly important component of mobile phone use, especially as they continue to add even more features, said Kouznetsov.