ESET has launched a software program designed to prevent viruses spreading via mobile phones. ESET Mobile Antivirus offers both automated and on-demand heuristic and existing virus scanning.

Although mobile phone viruses have yet to be a major issue, many security companies expect the next wave of malware to be spread this way. ESET's software is designed to ensure the phone continues to be usable in the event of attack by adding a preventative security layer that fends off any malware.

According to ESET: “One of the biggest challenges for mobile security is the limited memory, processing and bandwidth capabilities inherent with a small platform.” The company says its Mobile Security product takes up a very modest amount of memory and processing resources.

With increasingly well-connected handsets that can now get online via Wi-Fi and make use of GPRS and 3G and 3.5G services, plus the ability to handle email attachments and open and edit documents, the ways in which phones are at risk is increasing. In addition, MMS messaging and Bluetooth are acknowledged as other methods by which viruses could be distributed.

ESET Mobile Antivirus scans for files and code being illicitly distributed in all these ways, cleans up any rogue files it detects and provides a report on all activity after each scan. The depth of the scanning undertaken can be set by the user.

The software automatically updates with virus definitions and heuristic signature information on a daily basis. If preferred, automatic updates can be set to a weekly or monthly schedule or turned off altogether.

“Widespread mobile attacks are inevitable in the near future and yet it is likely that these first attacks will be hard to find before they’ve done their damage,” warns IDC security products analyst Brian Burke.

“Companies like ESET who are effectively applying their proactive protection to the mobile platform are most readily-equipped to identify and prevent the risks that will slip by most signature-based AV solutions.”

ESET Mobile Antivirus is currently being offered as public beta and is available as a free download from The full product is set for release later this year.