Consumers still reluctant to spend on mobile security, says Gartner

Antivirus firms must look to BYOD for sales

Consumers are reluctant to buy mobile antivirus software and this could leave security vendors unable to generate revenues from the BYOD trend with an economic headache, Gartner has predicted.

According to BYOD Initiatives Offer New Opportunities for Consumer Security Providers, PC sales are falling, leaving vendors to compete in a slowly declining security software market.

The shortfall could be made up from sales of mobile security software if it weren't for the fact that consumers are still not buying those products in large enough volumes. Even when they do, they are spending less money.

A partial-solution for vendors could be 'bring your own device' because consumers could end up using mobile security products put on their smartphones and tablets by an employer, Gartner said.

"This presents providers of both consumer and enterprise endpoint security products with an opportunity to enforce security to private devices and potentially expand their footprint into the consumer space," said Gartner research director, Ruggero Contu.

"Consequently, product managers at consumer security providers need to adopt strategies that allow consumer security use on personal devices in the enterprise workplace."

According to the analyst, consumer currently had around five devices at home that could connect to the Internet. Their willingness to defend these with paid software might in future vary depend on their age, gender, and IT skills, the firm said without elaborating on which combination of these might be less likely to shell out for antivirus.

Gartner has a point about the importance of BYOD because businesses will continue to invest in security software because they often have to for compliance reasons. What is less clear is the extent to which mobile platforms will come with integrated security of the sort that ended up being left off Windows as much for regulatory reasons as practicality.

If mobile malware expands to become a major issue on Android, say, Google will probably feel it should solve that problem by its own means, leaving paid products at a disadvantage. With two major rivals, it wold be unlikely to suffer regulatory interference if it took this course of action.

"The current awareness of security and its impact on users of mobile devices is likely to change," said Contu.

"Gartner expects attacks to focus increasingly on mobile platforms as they become more popular. This is likely to make consumers show more interest in security products that address mobile devices and acquire mobile security as part of a broader consumer endpoint security platform."

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