Mobile security saves you from yourself

It's sad but true--most PDA users skimp on mobile security. This collection of software for Palm, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Symbian can protect you from mobile malware threats.

Mobile security--just as important as PC security.

A cheesy, old security riddle goes like this: how do you protect your bagels? Put lox (locks) on them. Ha, ha. Ha. I can see you rolling your eyes, and I understand. Smack-you-over-the-head Brooklyn humor isn't for everyone. Yet when the nitty gets gritty, this easy-as-smoked-salmon-pie security technique must not be as obvious for mobile phone users as it should be, because although mobile attacks have been steadily rising, users have been more interested in games, ringtones, and customization apps for their PDAs than in protecting mobile data. (See the related CNET article.)

Last December, I put together a little something with tips on how to secure your wireless mobile device. I've updated that below, because it never hurts to rediscover some good security "lox."

Step 1: Secure the network
Security companies weren't very well-equipped when the first mobile threats streamed in, but most of the industry leaders have since issued mobile versions of their flagship antivirus products, such as Norton (Norton Smartphone Security for Pocket PC.)

F-Secure Mobile Antivirus and Trend Micro Mobile Security both shield Windows Mobile, Pocket PC, Symbian, and smart phone users. There's also Airscanner AntiVirus, which defends against Trojans and viruses for Windows Mobile devices and the Pocket PC. Symbian smart phones can get extra muscle power with Commander Mobile Anti-Virus.

Step 2: Block out thieves
Mobile devices are small, therefore easier to steal. Pickpockets can get at your data with old-fashioned theft and tinkering. Passwords, contact information, and your handheld's Internet history could conceivably lead a tenacious thief to your personal accounts. Though odds are thankfully low, you'll want to keep out the boldest snoops.

Enabling the password lock found in your PDA's native system settings is an important line of defense. Don't put this off--spend some time setting up a strong password.

eWallet guards data with 256-bit RC4 encryption

Step 3: Protect privacy and data
Password managers and data encryption are your new best friends in mobile wireless security. Encryption apps like Ilium Software's eWallet Professional for Windows Mobile, Smartphone, and Palm uses 256-bit RC4 encryption to keep your personal files personal. Similar lockbox programs require a password each time you access information--including credit card, bank account, and car details. CryptMagic performs a similar service for BlackBerry owners.

Privacy Guardian for Palm and Compact Cleaner for Windows Mobile Phone Edition and Pocket PC erase cookies and other Internet tracks.

There's more than one way to protect your phone. Sign in or register and recommend your favorites in the comments below.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.