Apple iPad users are being offered a security program to scan their new device for vulnerabilities and rogue software should such things emerge as threats.

Hailing it as the first iPad ‘antivirus' program, Apple software security specialist Intego has released VirusBarrier X6 version 10.5.5, a small update that adds the iPad to its ability to examine and secure Apple computers, the iPhone and even the iPod touch.

The software runs on a Mac PC, but will recognise and iPad if it is connected. Officially, it copies the content of the user folder to the host PC, where it examines the files for problems. In the case of jailbroken iPads - possibly the software's real market - the software will be able to image the entire device.

Will users of jailbroken iPads necessarily worry about security? According to Peter James of Intego, his company would never recommend that users break their iPads, but expected that such an event would happen within days. On the assumption that the jailbroken iPad community turns out to be larger than it has been with iPhones, those users would need some kind of protection.

The disadvantage of using Mac PC software to do this is that it will not be running on the device itself, and requires imaging the iPad's internal storage, a time-consuming event. For anyone running a non-jailbroken iPad, security software just to monitor a single device would little more than a psychological reassurance. The chances of malicious software on an iPad remain a theoretical possibility, but little more.

Intego VirusBarrier V6 also adds add some Mac-specific tweaks such as the ability to submit suspicious URLs to Intego for analysis.