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8/12/2011
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McAfee Debuts iOS Data Protection Software

The company's WaveSecure software duplicates some of functions of Apple's Find My iPhone, but it also simplifies switching to Android or other mobile platforms, at least in part.

McAfee on Monday plans to bring its mobile data protection software to consumers using Apple's iPhone. The computer security company will be offering its WaveSecure application through Apple's iTunes App Store for $20.

The iOS edition of WaveSecure is similar in most respects to the Android version, introduced in September 2009.

Although security issues have been more common on Android devices than iOS devices, WaveSecure doesn't offer malware mitigation technology. Rather it offers consumers some of the remote administrative capabilities found in enterprise mobile management software, capabilities best appreciated when one's phone is lost or stolen. Reliable statistics about the number of mobile phones lost or stolen annually are scarce, but it's safe to say that many millions of people confront this problem every year.

"Consumers use their mobile devices to hold some of the most important details of their life," explained McAfee co-president Todd Gebhart in a statement. "McAfee WaveSecure software works seamlessly to secure, back up, and wirelessly restore content on the device via the online portal. So even if the device is lost, stolen, or damaged, or even if users accidentally delete their data, the data remains safe and easily accessible."

WaveSecure for iOS allows users to backup their contacts, photos, and videos, and to restore their contacts, from McAfree's WaveSecure website. It also offers the ability to track and locate a lost or stolen iPhone, provided the device is connected to a carrier or Wi-Fi network, and to remotely wipe one's contacts.

The iOS version however lacks some of the features available in the Android version: SMS and call log backup and restore, SIM tracking, and remote locking with an alarm.

"The WaveSecure product for iOS is somewhat different than on other platforms due the limitations set forth by Apple," said Lianne Caetano, director of product marketing for McAfee consumer mobile solutions, in an email. "iOS doesn’t have remote wipe. The wipe is a local wipe, which has to be triggered from the app."

Apple has long offered a similar service called Find My iPhone, initially for a fee through its MobileMe service, and subsequently for free. Find My iPhone, which also works for recent model iPods as well as iPads, allows users to locate iOS devices on an online map, to send a message to iOS devices or play a sound, and to remotely trigger the erasure of data on iOS devices, given an active network connection.

Other vendors like Microsoft, as well as mobile carriers and third-party security vendors, also offer phone tracking and data wiping solutions.

Caetano explained that one of the benefits of McAfee's software is that it makes switching phone platforms easier. "McAfee, with cross-platform support, makes it easy to switch," she said. "With WaveSecure, you can move from an iOS device to an Android device and, within a minute, get your phonebook loaded into your new device. As you would expect from a neutral third-party, we want to enable users to continue to have the device and data protected no matter what device they may choose, today or tomorrow."

At a full-day virtual event, InformationWeek and Dark Reading editors will talk with security experts about the causes and mistakes that lead to security breaches, both from the technology perspective and from the people perspective. It happens Aug. 25. Register now.

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