Most of us would never consider running our laptops or desktops without an antivirus software package; however, millions of people are walking around with smartphones that have no antivirus protection. The question is, “Do you need antivirus software on your smartphone?”

The good news is that there haven’t been many viruses that have targeted mobile operating systems. Up until the past few years, most mobile devices couldn’t run applications, so the potential damage a single virus could do via mobile would not compare to what would be possible via desktop operating systems.  So those people creating viruses and malware seem to have chosen to fish where the fish were.

Since 2004, when Symbian users were hit with the Cabir worm, dozens of viruses have attacked Symbian and Windows Mobile users.

Newer mobile operating systems, like BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android, make it tougher for viruses to find their way onto your handset due to their default application settings. Many iPhone and Android users claim that there is no need for antivirus protection due to the security built into the OS. BlackBerry advises users of the same thing on its Web site.

Mobile antivirus solutions

Not trying to pick on particular OSes, but the mobile antivirus market is dominated by products for Symbian and Windows Mobile. Here are seven smartphone antivirus solutions to check out.

BullGuard Mobile Antivirus
Vendor’s description:
“BullGuard Mobile Antivirus is an easy-to-use and reliable solution that protects Pocket PCs and smartphones from malicious programs that target mobile platforms.”
Windows Mobile 5.0 or later, Symbian S60 v9.x, Symbian UIQ v3.x
Cost: $39.95
ESET Mobile Antivirus
Vendor’s description: “Delivers proactive protection for your Smartphones and Pocket PCs against SMS spam, viruses, spyware, adware, trojans, worms and rootkits.”
Platforms: Windows Mobile 5.0 (PocketPC/Smartphone), Windows Mobile 6.0 (Standard/Professional), and Windows Mobile 6.1 (Standard/Professional)
Cost: $24.95/yr.
F-Secure Mobile Security for Business
Vendor’s description: “F-Secure Mobile Security for Business provides essential protection for today’s sophisticated smartphones. It makes sure businesses do not suffer from productivity and continuity problems caused by mobile malware, safeguarding confidential information even if the phone is lost or stolen.”
Platforms: Symbian S60 3rd and 5th Edition, UIQ, Windows Mobile 5.0 (PocketPC and Smartphone), Windows Mobile 6.0 (Standard and Professional)
Cost: $39.99/yr.
Kaspersky Mobile Security
Vendor’s description:
“You use your Smartphone in many of the same ways that you do your PC – from surfing the Internet to storing your contacts and personal information. So why not give it the same protection? Designed by one of the most respected Internet security labs in the world, Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 delivers the latest anti-theft, privacy and anti-malware technologies directly to your Smartphone.”
Platforms: Windows Mobile 5.0, 6.0, 6.1, 6.5. Symbian S60 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 9.4 (Nokia only).
Cost: $29.95/yr.
McAfee Mobile Security for Enterprise
Vendor’s description: “Mobile devices give you increased productivity, better data access, and more efficient operations. But the tradeoff is the risk of unauthorized access to important business information. With McAfee Mobile Security, you can have the extra utility and security.”
Platforms: Windows Mobile 5.0 (PocketPC & Smartphone), Windows Mobile 6.0 (Standard & Professional)
Cost: Not published
Norton Smartphone Security
Vendor’s description:
“Mobile antivirus and antispam safeguards your privacy against mobile threats.”
Platforms: Windows Mobile 5.0 (PocketPC and Smartphone), Windows Mobile 6.0 (Standard and Professional), Symbian OS 9 (Series 60 Version 3, UIQ 3.0)
Cost: $29.99/yr.
Trend Micro Mobile Security
Vendor’s description: “Trend Micro Mobile Security protects smartphones and PDAs from data loss, infections, and attacks from a central enterprise console that can also manage desktop protection.”
Platforms: Windows Mobile 5.0 (PocketPC and Smartphone), Windows Mobile 6.x (Standard and Professional), Symbian 9.1/S60 3rd abd 5th Editions
Cost: Not published

Bottom line

If you’re using a Symbian or Windows Mobile device, you’re no stranger to the risk of viruses or malware on your handset, and you need an antivirus solution.

iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android users haven’t had to worry about such issues yet. The fact that more vendors aren’t cranking out iPhone or Android antivirus apps makes me question whether there is any threat at all.

What do you think? Do you use antivirus software on your smartphone? Do you think it is necessary, or do newer mobile OSes make viruses a thing of the past?

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