Beware: McAfee selling iOS protection you already have

The security firm is happy to charge you $20 for what Apple provides at no cost -- and that some Android and BlackBerry users have at least partially

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Apple has deliberately kept antimalware software away from iOS, even as it has actively encouraged mobile device management (MDM) products designed to secure the devices' access to corporate information. Apple has long looked askance at the PC market, where antivirus products that intertwine with the Windows OS have become a de facto extension of the OS, increasing the complexity and cost for users, and often causing performance and other problems. You can see why Apple would prefer not to open that door on iOS and why it has quietly been handling some of that itself in Mac OS X in the last year as malware attacks have begun to target the Mac.

McAfee's WaveSecure is also available for Android and BlackBerry devices, where it may be more justifiable:

  • Some Android smartphone and tablet providers -- Motorola Mobility and Samsung, for example -- provide Web-based remote lock and wipe, plus online backup of device settings and other data. Of course, because Android is tied to your Google account, your contacts are backed up there automatically. But with no iTunes equivalent, content such as photos aren't backed up. Depending on what your Android device's maker provides, WaveLink may -- or may not -- be worthwhile.
  • The WaveSecure case is harder to make for BlackBerry users. Research in Motion has a desktop sync facility that can back up your BlackBerry's contents. Enterprises that use RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) of course have long been able to remotely wipe and lock devices, and and today RIM released a free Web-based tool called BlackBerry Management Center for small businesses to do the same thing. So all that WaveSecure really brings to the table is online backup of your content. Is that worth $20? If you don't syc to your desktop regularly, maybe.

I almost feel sorry for McAfee, which like its antimalware brethren really hopes the explosion of mobile devices opens a new market for its wares. But frankly, I would be very happy if that market never materializes. After all, the antimalware market reflects a flaw in desktop OSes, and it would be better for businesses and users if they don't experience that flaw in the mobile world. As far as online backup, thanks to Apple's iCloud initiative, it's clear this is fast becoming a feature of a mobile device, not something that should need a third-party product.

This article, "Beware: McAfee selling iOS protection you already have," was originally published at Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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