The Norton security tools are a very familiar option for computer protection, and Symantec is now extending to protection of mobile phones, with Norton Mobile Security (Beta)18.104.22.168 for iPhones. The app, which is still in beta mode, goes beyond a simple screen lock to add greater protection to your smartphone.
Using the app, you select your secret passphrase, and after that choose ‘buddies’ by either manually entering their phone number, or taking them from your phone directory. The numbers that are on your list are then able to send you texts that incorporate your passphrase, which will cause your phone to lock down, or even, in emergencies, to completely wipe SD card and phone memory alike. The idea is that if your phone were ever to be stolen, you could make it completely useless via a simple text, so that the thief couldn’t use it. The SIM card can also be locked down if there’s an attempt to swap it.
The app runs silently and continuously, and you can schedule scans for malware as often as you choose. If you download any apps, Norton will scan them to make certain that they’re not harmful in any way. You can update the parameters for malware manually, or schedule them to occur automatically. This feature can be disabled when roaming, so that you don’t incur astronomical bills. Another great feature, and a very useful one, is the ability to block SMS and calls. You can block number from your call logs, or even specific numbers from your phone directory.
Even though the app runs continuously, there’s no apparent effect on performance of the phone or noticeable drainage of the battery. Even though the app is still in beta, you wouldn’t guess it, as it is as slick and functional as any premium app, and there seems to be no issue with bugs at all. On 31 December 2010 the beta version expires, and Norton Mobile Security will be a commercial app based solely on subscriptions. Symantec has not as yet released any information on what the pricing structure is likely to be. But it’s still free for the moment, so this is a good time to download it and try it out for yourself, and at the end of the year you’ll have the option to continue using it at whatever premium Symantec has set.