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Symantec pushes mobile security onto Android and iOS

Do Androids dream of remote wipe?

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Symantec is extending its support of smartphone platforms in a bid to make its security and management technology as ubiquitous in the mobile world as it is on the desktop.

The security giant announced added support for Android and Apple iOS platforms to its mobile security and management portfolio during the opening of its Symantec Vision conference in Barcelona today. This is in addition to existing support for Windows Mobile, Symbian and BlackBerry smartphones

The technology covers functions such as device security, encryption and authentication. Password policy enforcement, remote wipe and device inventory functions are also included in enterprise versions of the software.

VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) Access for Mobile, PGP Mobile and Symantec Endpoint Protection Mobile Edition are the three main products in Symantec's push to sell both enterprises and service providers on its ability to minimise problems such as mobile network misuse, malware proliferation and spam. The enterprise versions of the product are available immediately, with the telecoms carrier versions coming online next quarter. Symantec paid $1.3bn to buy VeriSign in May and intends to make good of this investment with increased sales in mobile technology.

"We're going to embed user-authentication technology for VeriSign in all our products," Enrique Salem, Symantec's chief exec, told reporters. "This is different from the digital certificate business and will involve an identifier and a challenge question, together with geo-location."

The payment by phone concept has been kicking around the IT industry for some years. It's an appealing idea but many pieces need to fall in place to realise the vision. Handset manufacturers, mobile telcos, payment providers, banks and retailers all need to be on board - quite apart from the security piece, which Symantec is in as good a place as anyone in the security market to supply.

Salem acknowledged the difficulty of the IT industry as a whole to make the e-wallet concept a reality. Symantec's strategy is to focus on building bilateral relationships, starting with a small number of retailers and payment providers.

"There's not going to be one ID for the internet," Salem said. "The idea that there will be one authoritative service is far-fetched. It's not going to happen."

Symantec also wants to persuade consumers to buy Norton Mobile Security for Android, possibly in extension to existing desktop versions of Symantec's consumer-focused security software, to tackle the yet-to-emerge threat of malware capable of infecting Android devices. While it's true that a couple of SMS Trojans infecting Android smartphones have appeared in Russia, the problem is minuscule compared to the hundreds of thousands of strains of Windows-specific worms, Trojan, viruses, rootkits and botnet agents that have been the mainstay of the security threat landscape for many years. ®

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