CA offers antivirus software for Palm devices

Software maker Computer Associates International has made a working production version of its antivirus software for the Palm OS handheld computer operating system available for free download.

          Software maker Computer Associates International has made a working production version of its antivirus software for the Palm OS handheld computer operating system available for free download.

          Computer Associates' antivirus program -- InoculateIT for the Palm OS -- is immediately available from the company website, according to a CA announcement. InoculateIT works on handheld computers running PalmOS, Version 3.0 or later, including most Palm III, Palm V, and Palm VII series handhelds, the Palm m100 handheld, and Handspring Visor and Visor Deluxe computers.

          Antivirus vendors are just beginning to address virus threats on PDAs, says Simon Perry, CA's vice president for security solutions.

          "It's really only in the last few months that the threat has become real ... and it's only just started," he says. "You've only got three real viruses out there ... the bigger threat is consumer fear and the erosion of confidence in the platform."

          Consumers already are loathe to put mission-critical information on a PDA, according to analysts.

          "Anyone who has backed over their Palm Pilot, dropped their Palm Pilot, or flushed their Palm Pilot down the toilet knows that it is imprudent for the Palm Pilot to be the database of record." says Frank Prince, a senior analyst at the technology market research firm Forrester.

          Researchers found three viruses in September affecting Palm OS handhelds. The "Liberty Crack" Trojan horse program can wipe all the files from a Palm handheld computer. The Palm "Vapor" virus is another Trojan horse that renders all third-party application icons invisible, appearing as if they had been deleted, and the more malicious "Palm OS/Phage" virus fills a device's screen with a gray box, crashes the application that is running and then replicates itself.

          Symantec Inc. released a beta-test version of its Antivirus for Palm OS in September. The software can be downloaded for free from Symantec's website. CA's Palm OS antivirus is out of the testing phase and, at 4K bytes, a third of the size of Symantec's, says Perry.

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