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Hackers, Viruses and Handheld Computers

Boot Camp feature for Tuesday, July 18, 2000

It's bad enough that you have to worry about the nuts who create viruses to damage desktop computers, now there are worries about those wireless devices as well. Wireless, Web enabled handheld computers are great. They let you tap into online information and email, anytime... anywhere. But they also open up another door for viruses. Srivats Sampath is the CEO at the well known anti-virus site McAfee.com...

"We're talking about today the handheld computers which have wireless capabilities and have infrared capabilities, because we see that as a tremendous backdoor to getting viruses into PC networks. Because let's assume a theoretical case where you have a Palm VII which is on PalmNet and you're synchronizing files with a email service which is on PalmNet and you happen to get down a file infected with the I Love You virus. When you synchronize this handheld with your PC, now you've introduced this virus into your PC and if you're on a corporate network, into the corporation."

So McAfee.com has launched a new Wireless Security Center that scans handheld computers. The subscription price is 59.95 a year. Keep in mind... so far the viruses don't infect and damage the handhelds themselves. The danger is that they can be used to spread viruses. In Sampath's words...

"Being on the Internet without any kind of protection is like sleeping with your doors open in a bad neighborhood."

Sooner or later, something bad will happen. You can find us on the Web at Bootcamp.com. Bootcamp, I'm Fred Fishkin for CBS News.