Are you ever worried about your mobile phone becoming infected with viruses? No, didn't think so. Whereas most of us are very careful about protecting our computers against spam, viruses, spyware, worms and other threats, our mobile phones are usually neglected.

Mobile anti-virus specialist firm UMU wants us to pay more attention to protecting our mobile phones. It launched its UMU Scan service last week. It's the first product in its anti-virus portfolio to combat mobile virus threats.

UMU Scan is specifically designed for mobiles and can be quickly downloaded straight to your smartphone from your computer. It'ill quickly examine your entire device including the memory card, automatically quarantining any detected viruses. And iprovides constant protection against files received via Bluetooth, MMS, SMS, Wi-Fi and infrared.

At a recent briefing with Tech.co.uk, UMU said some eight million mobile phones in the UK are under threat. Waves of foreign worms have recently hit our shores from across Europe and Asia. About half - four million devices - could already be infected without the user's knowledge.

Study

A recent study by UMU found that at least seven viruses were currently contaminating UK mobile phones. Aptly named Skulls, Doomed and CommWarrior, these viruses - originating in Turkey, Russia and France - will all incur various damages to the data stored on devices.

The damage done ranges from the corruption and deletion of contacts, calendar and pictures, to texts, emails, music and videos. But the viruses can also exist merely as a nuisance - these are therefore harder to detect - such as the menu icons constantly changing.

Some viruses were found to be capable of leaking potentially sensitive information on your phone, such as text messages, pictures and emails to other contacts in your address book. These pose a real security threat to both consumers and businesses.

UMU Scan will detect these types of viruses before they attack your device. It will protect your smartphone from any security threats to your personal data and privacy.

"The new breed of viruses are the most malicious we have ever seen. They are built by highly organised criminals across Europe and Asia, intent on either causing widespread damage or extracting maximum commercial gain," said Peter Harrison, CTO of UMU told us.

Spike in threats

"What is really scary is that lots of people may already be infected and not know it. Our monitoring has shown a sustained spike in malware detections this year - there are currently 300 viruses for smartphones. And with over 100 million smartphones now in existence it won't be long before they spread."

Harrison added that mobile viruses are different to computer threats. "What we have created in UMU Scan is software that has been purpose-built for mobiles phones so it is small, fast and effective as well as power-efficient so it can work in the background without draining your battery," he said.

"With the sudden rise in mobile viruses across the UK, now is the time to protect yourself and your mobile data from attack."

UMU Scan is available on Pocket PCs and smartphones running Windows Mobile. Symbian S60 2nd Edition Feature Pack 1 and 3rd Edition will be supported soon. A free 30-day trial of UMU Scan can be downloaded from www.umuglobal.com . A one-year licence costs £20, while a two-year licence is priced at £35.