I read a lot of articles and online posts about the iPad - and I mean a lot. So if you asked me, what kinds of security apps are available for the iPad, last week I would have told you, "I'm just not aware of any - Apple won't provide security services with root access to the device, to make security apps worthwhile." Well, thanks to my LPM friend and colleague Dave Ries, I now know better.
There are certainly more security apps available for the iPhone than iPad, and many of those are only for devices that have been "jailbroken" (removing limitations imposed by Apple to run software not authorized by the folks in Cupertino). As far as I know right now, there is no malware written for the iPad today - but there are still some tools that can keep you, and the ones with whom you digitally communicate, safe from future threats.
VirusBarrier ($2.99) works as a manual virus scanner for email attachments or other documents you want to save on your iPad. When I say "manual," that means you have to run the app yourself - it doesn't work automatically, like your average desktop antivirus product. Once you install the app, it becomes one of the options in your Open In... menu in email. So if you receive an email attachment you don't recognize and you absolutely have to open it, press down on the attachment until Open In..., appears, and then select VirusBarrier:
You'll be taken to the VirusBarrier app, where the document is scanned.
That's it - that's really all there is to the app. It's a nice security blanket to have if you absolutely need to open attachments you don't recognize (or even ones you do). That's not actually all there is, but it's the feature you'll probably use the most. You can also add a "Remote Location," to scan files in other locations before you decide to download them to your iPad. Right now you can add a Dropbox or iDisk account, website, and FTP or WebDAV server. In the image below I added my Dropbox account, and am looking at my folder of Articles.
You can select individual files to scan, or you can select Scan All at the top to scan everything in a folder. Once you're done, you can press the button in the upper right to either open the file in another app or send it via email to yourself or others.
The Logs button will show you a listing of all the apps you've scanned recently, and the results of each scan:
For $2.99 you get a years' worth of malware definitions - presumably I'll need to pony up another $2.99 this time next year. You can configure the app to automatically update the definitions daily, weekly, or monthly - the updates will occur on schedule, the next time you connect to a wireless network.
In all, I really like VirusBarrier - it's pretty basic, but that's really all you need for a little extra peace of mind. Like I said before, there's currently no known malware for the iPad - but VirusBarrier can definitely protect you from passing on an infected file - nothing like being known as the "Typhoid Mary of iPad users" to ruin one's reputation.....