Nokia has signed a pact with Symantec to preinstall security software in the Series 60 Symbian-based smartphones.
Symantec Mobile Security for Symbian OS is designed to protect smartphones from mobile malware threats by automatically activating virus protection and closing vulnerable ports, providing a defense against viruses, worms and Trojans.
The software's AutoProtect feature runs continuously, searching for malicious code in text messages, e-mail files and files brought to the phone through Web access.
The software also gives users the ability to manually scan application and file archives. In addition, a built-in firewall blocks suspicious incoming and outgoing connection attempts on the phone's local area or wide area network connections. Software and protection updates can be downloaded over the air.
"Our product offers both antivirus and firewall protection against malicious content coming into the device via a number of different vectors," said Sarah Hicks, vice president of mobile and wireless solutions at Symantec.
As more and more data, including financial and personal information, is being stored on mobile phones, she explained, these devices are increasingly at risk to malware threats.
"Mobile viruses are an emerging and growing threat," she offered. "We are taking a proactive approach rather than waiting for the threat to emerge and then address it."
The two companies have collaborated for the past two years on mobile security technology and systems. Symantec's software already runs on the Nokia N70 smartphone and the 9300 and 9500 Communicator devices. Hicks said Nokia is taking a product-by-product approach in determining which future handhelds will include the Symantec software.
Symbian, as the leading smartphone operating system, has become the top mobile target for hackers. Hicks said that while most mobile viruses until this point have been experimental, hackers are focusing on finding ways to exploit flaws in the system.
Most analysts and security professionals contend that it will be at least a few years before mobile viruses will have much of an impact, given the limited amount of users that have high-end smartphones.