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04:20 PM

Norton Intros Android Smartphone Security

Users can remotely disable lost or stolen smartphones and block unwanted calls with the app.

With smartphones increasingly being used for workflow functions and to store large amounts of content, security vendor Norton has released a beta application to protect devices running on the Android platform.

Norton Smartphone Security provides Android users with the ability to remotely disable their device in the event their phone is stolen. The software also offers protection against malware and the ability to block unwanted callers.

The app features a regular virus scan that can be scheduled monthly, weekly, or daily. The feature can be enhanced with a user-generated threat reporting and protection system called Norton Community Watch. The call-blocking feature can be used to blacklist numbers from calls and texts. The app also offers remote lock and wipe capabilities so that all the data on the memory card can be erased by sending a text message.

Users can install the free beta of Norton Smartphone Security for Android from the Android Market. Once the application on their phone has been downloaded, they can view a tutorial on how to set up the wipe and lock commands, said Mark Kanok, product manager of Norton Smartphone Security for Android.

Kanok noted that while malware protection is available in the product, "we've really focused on immediate end-user benefits such as the wipe/lock features and call/text blocking, which we believe provide everyday benefits."

Early reviews are generally favorable with users posting comments in Norton's forum that the app "looks good so far," and "this does look like a promising product."

While there are other security products for smartphones, "What I like about Norton's approach is that rather than focus on PC-oriented threats -- like viruses and malware, which are not widespread on phones -- it aims to secure your phone from mobile threats, like leaving your phone at a bar,'' said Avi Greengart, research director of consumer devices, at Current Analysis.

The Norton Smartphone Security application is available free for a 90-day trial. Norton, a subsidiary of Symantec, said it hasn't yet determined pricing.

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