Trend Micro on Monday followed in the footsteps of rivals like Symantec by introducing anti-virus and anti-spam software for handhelds and smart cell phones.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company, however, put a twist on the roll-out by making the software available for free until June, 2005.

Trend Micro Mobile Security, which works on devices running Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 and will support hardware using Symbian OS v7.0 come January, can be downloaded from the Trend Micro Web site and used free of charge through June 30, 2005.

Although viruses and worms that attack cell phones and PDAs are rare, two have made news of sorts in 2004. Cabir, which spreads via Bluetooth, debuted as a proof-of-concept worm in June, while the Trojan-like Skulls first appeared in November. Both primarily targeted Nokia-made smart phones.

Most security firms have pegged Cabir and Skulls as very low-level threats, but most analysts believe that it's only a matter of time before mobile devices are put in hackers' crosshairs.

"Many people will put hi-tech gadgets, data-centric mobile phones, and PDAs on their holiday gift wish list, said Raimund Genes, the president of operations at Trend Micro, in a statement. "As the number of people using the devices increases, so they become more enticing targets for virus writers."

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