Symantec is developing what it claimed will be the first anti-virus software designed for hand-held devices, such as PalmPilots and Pocket PCs.
The company said that although there are currently no known computer viruses, worms or Trojan Horses that target hand-held PCs, these platforms are just as susceptible to malicious code as any other computing platform.
Hand-held devices will become an increasingly attractive target for virus writers, said Symantec. Analyst firm IDC predicted there will be 50 million personal hand-helds used in businesses worldwide by 2003.
Symantec's prototype hand-held anti-virus technology uses what the company described as a 'micro-engine' to detect potential threats to hand-held platforms.
Executives said they are also investigating ways to use heuristics - a less formulaic approach to virus detection than common techniques - and other more advanced non-fingerprint-based technologies to eliminate the dependence on larger virus definitions, or libraries, used in today's anti-virus products.
Aled Miles, managing director for the UK and Ireland at Symantec, said: "There hasn't been a virus for hand-held PCs as yet, but as virus writing evolves there is a degree of inevitability that there will be a risk.
IT directors have had many challenges with people using laptops and bringing them in from home."
The first hand-held anti-virus products will be for the Palm operating system, to be shipped by the end of the year, but other products will follow, said Miles.
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