Secure your mobile wireless device

Wi-Fi technology provides the freedom to access the Internet from virtually any location using increasingly sophisticated portable devices. The “cool” factor of e-mailing and instant messaging when you’re out and about is so compelling that protecting the device from malevolent invaders is often overlooked. Unfortunately, the same network access that makes online mobility easy for you is also convenient for computer criminals, and even a quick browse can attract damaging codes.

Securing mobile applications requires more effort up front than securing your wireless home network, for two reasons: First, desktops and laptops run on a full-featured operating system that often comes with varying levels of built-in security. Mobile devices, on the other hand, generally leave Internet security up to the user. Second, as each device comes with its own operating system, security software can take time to track down. For instance, BlackBerrys run on a proprietary operating system; Pocket PCs run on Windows Mobile; and Palm devices, like the Treo, run on the Palm operating system. Interoperability is still on our wish list, but here are three steps for protecting your BlackBerry, your Palm device, or your Windows Mobile/Pocket PC from Internet threats.

Step 1: Secure the network

Airscanner Mobile AntiVirus can defend against Trojan horses as well as viruses.It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of online security for any network. Since going online is a secondary function for most mobile device users (surfing and sending data come first), securing the connection may not seem as urgent–and that’s exactly what exploitation architects are counting on.

The good news is that mobile wireless security is a growing sector, and some solid programs exist to keep the worst network infections at bay. Owners of a Palm device or a Pocket PC can deflect wandering enemies with Trend Micro’s reliable PC-cillin Internet Security.

Windows Mobile users have other options at their fingertips with F-secure Anti-Virus and Airscanner Mobile AntiVirus Pro. Symbian smart phones get an extra boost with Commander Mobile Anti-Virus. JiWire SpotLock supports AvantGo handhelds.

Step 2: Block out thievesThe physical world is another source of threats to handheld security. The most recent spate of corporate laptop thefts are a harsh reminder your sensitive data can fall into the wrong hands. Though odds are thankfully low, a thief could conceivably use your information to assume your identity or swipe your e-mail contact list to fuel a spam campaign. At the very least, you’ll want to keep out the boldest of snoops.

The most straightforward method is to enable the password lock found in your handheld’s native system settings. You’ll want to ensure you set and test a strong password that will frustrate any thief who has gotten

Step 3: Protect your data

Setting the password on your device is an important physical security layer to which software applications provide stronger support. One way to keep your data personal is to use a lockbox program that requires a password each time you access your information. eWallet Professional for Pocket PC helps you create and organize a wealth of information–including credit card, bank account, and car details– into password-protected categories. CryptMagic performs a similar service for BlackBerry users, and Palm aficionados may appreciate Secret.

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