Symantec is to release security software for Windows Mobile smartphones next week. The software will be released in two versions. Symantec will release a consumer product called Norton Mobile Security for Smartphones, as well as Symantec Mobile Security 5.0, designed for enterprise users.

Both versions will be available 29 May, a Symantec spokesman said.

Symantec currently sells a suite for phones based on the Symbian operating system, as well as antivirus software for Windows Mobile. The new products will have much broader range of features, Symantec said.

The Windows Mobile software will include antivirus, antispam, firewall and data encryption capabilities. This will keep data secure, even if the smartphone is lost.

Symantec will sell an optional VPN (virtual private network) component for users who want to securely connect with their corporate servers.

The Symantec Norton enterprise software will have advanced IT administration and auditing features. For example, administrators could wipe data off the phones remotely, or check an audit log to see everything that was done with the device after it was lost.

Administrators will also be able to lock down certain mobile phone features, making them unavailable to users.

The vast majority of malicious software today is targeted at PCs, not smartphones, but security vendors believe that a large number of mobile phone users, coupled with the growing complexity of devices, may soon turn these devices into a more attractive target for hackers.

Data losses now regularly make front-page news in the US, and enterprises are starting to take note of the risks associated with mobile devices.

"More and more people have identified a need for it, because they're deploying mission critical enterprise applications on these handsets," said Bob Egan, chief analyst with the Tower Group.

With American banks such as Bank of America, Wachovia, and Citigroup all rolling out support for mobile banking, online criminals now have a financial incentive to target smartphone users, he added.

Egan estimates that Windows Mobile devices make up about 3 percent of the US mobile phone market.

Norton Mobile Security for Smartphones will cost $49 (about £25). Symantec Mobile Security 5.0 will be priced at $79 (£40). Symantec will ship a similar 5.0 update to Symbian smartphone software in about six months, a company spokesman said.

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