ASP McAfee.com sicks Guard Dog on Palm pests

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Security ASP McAfee.com is making several additions to its Wireless Security Program subscription service. One of them has real bite.

Guard Dog For Palm, based on McAfee's PC security software, is a new program that prevents malicious applications from viewing, stealing, or deleting data from wireless devices running on Palm OS version 3.0 or higher.

Do Kim, McAfee.com's Wireless Security Center project manager, said Guard Dog's heuristic scanning method watches only for potentially hostile activity like password changes, file deletions, and personal information accessing.

"Basically it isn't trying to shove PC virus scanning tools and huge definition files that are looking for PC files onto these devices," said Kim. "That basically overpowers them and makes them no more than a piece of plastic with a big AV scanner."

Guard Dog runs at a very low level, Kim said, making it nearly impossible for rogue applications to affect the Palm OS. When such an activity is detected, the user is alerted and may choose to block the activity or can allow it to take place.

He said the protection ensures that a Palm OS-enabled device cannot introduce a virus to a corporate network during the syncing process.

Two other new applications for the Wireless Security Program are McAfee's File Transporter For Palm, which allows transport of PC files without a typically lengthy conversion process, and Performance Optimizer for Windows CE / Pocket PC, which improves data access and memory use on those relevant platforms.

Since anti-virus software and other performance enhancing programs need to be updated regularly to remain effective, Kim said it only makes sense for them to be offered through an ASP program like the Wireless Security Program.

"AV products need constant updates. As an ASP, it's a Web-based service. The updates happen online... so the instant update and install process happens all within the browser," said Kim.

The updates are accessed via the browser on a PC and are then downloaded to a synced handheld device. Since PDAs today are typically small and possess limited data capacities, Kim said it is more logical to receive updates that way.

The Wireless Security Program was released in June. It also includes VirusScan for Handhelds, Software MatchMaker application updater, and Hardware MatchMaker to locate add-ons, among other programs.

An annual subscription to the Sunnyvale, California company's Wireless Security Program is priced at $29.95 per year.

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