"They really shouldn't be called cell phones anymore," Google chairman Eric Schmidt opined at Motorola's recent RAZR unveiling. "They should be called mobile computers." No matter what you call them, modern-day smartphones are becoming increasingly vulnerable to malware as the line begins to blur. Verizon has announced Verizon Mobile Security to help its customers combat the trend: an Android app developed in conjunction with McAfee and mobile insurance giant Asurion.
Verizon Wireless customers have two levels of coverage from which to choose. The basic version is free and provides basic malware-scanning and malicious website identification, courtesy of McAfee. Verizon Mobile Security Premium costs $1.99 per month per line; it identifies which of your apps have the ability to fiddle with your phone's data and allows you to remotely find, alarm, lock or wipe a lost handset. If you already have Verizon's Total Equipment Coverage insurance plan, subscribing to Verizon Mobile Security Premium only costs $1 per month.
The "Mobile Security Bundle" portion of the Sprint Guardian plans unveiled earlier in the year offer similar functionality, but Sprint skips McAfee and uses Lookout to power its security efforts. Sprint Guardian is also more family orientated; Guardian's mobile security functions cost $4.99 per month for coverage for up to five lines, while a separate "Family Safety Bundle" option costs $9.99 per month for five lines and gives parents the ability to monitor and control their children's phone usage, find their children via GPS and automatically stop calls and texts from bothering teens behind the wheel.
The security apps from each carrier are available for Android only. The image above comes from McAfee's 2nd quarter 2012 security report, which claims that around 13,000 pieces of mobile malware have been identified in 2012 -- and as you can see, the vast majority target Google's open operating system.