UK developer Virtuity has unveiled a service designed to protect data on mobile devices by remotely wiping them if they are lost or stolen.
Available immediately, BackStopp Mobile currently supports only Windows Mobile devices, but the firm promised a version for Symbian-based smartphones by early 2009.
Virtuity managing director David Brooker pointed out that modern mobile devices can hold a great deal of information which, in the wrong hands, could prove much more damaging than the loss of the handset itself.
"It's about tying down data. We are not particularly concerned about recovering the hardware," he said.
If a protected device is lost or stolen, the user reports it to their service provider or IT department, which logs it with BackStopp Mobile via a browser-based console. The device is then instructed via the cellular network to wipe itself and return a report so that the customer knows it has been carried out successfully.
The report details whether any files were accessed on the device between the time it was lost and when the wipe command was completed.
BackStopp Mobile requires a small 56KB executable to be deployed to the mobile device, which simply watches for a wipe instruction to be delivered by text message. This executable is small enough to be unnoticed and, as smartphones and other mobile devices are typically powered on for most of the time, the chances of a successful wipe are very high, according to Brooker.
The new service builds on Virtuity's current BackStopp offering that provides a similar capability for laptops, but can additionally spike the operating system to render the laptop unusable.
BackStopp Mobile costs £3.50 to £4 per device per month, and a trial version is available via the Bac kStopp web site.
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