Many IT managers have nightmares over the potential security risks posed by handheld devices, such as personal digital assistants and smart phones. And with more employees synching up their devices to office PC and e-mail applications, the problem may only worsen.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec Corp., which hopes to address this issue with at least a few smart phone brands, has announced the launch of Norton Smartphone Security, which it boasts “is the first consumer mobile security offering to provide solution for both Windows Mobile and Symbian OS devices.

The software’s antivirus features prevent users from accessing infected files, while a firewall controls both inbound and outbound network traffic. The product also comes with an anti-spam feature designed specifically for short messaging services, which automatically deletes or filters spam text messages.

Symantec said one reason it rolled out the software was due to users engaging in online banking via their handhelds. The software security provider cited statistics that show 34 per cent of U.S. smart phone users access their bank accounts via their mobile devices and 54 per cent access Web sites that require a password.