BYOD Could Help Spur Mobile Security Growth: Gartner

Consumers have a preference for online antivirus products and low spending on mobile security products, the report found.

The growing high use of personal mobile devices for work purposes means security providers have an opportunity to assist enterprise bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives, as a report from IT research firm Gartner suggested consumer adoption and willingness to pay for antivirus software on mobile devices is low.

The report predicts that 30 percent of consumer product selection criteria will be based on requirements to secure new mobile computing platforms by 2015. While the average IT-savvy consumer has five or more devices at home that connect to the Internet, consumers are far more likely to have an antivirus program installed on their laptops and desktops while tablets, mobile phones and gaming systems that connect to the Internet are often left unprotected.

"The use of personal devices at work matches high-enterprise demand for solutions to the BYOD security problem," Ruggero Contu, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "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. Consequently, product managers at consumer security providers need to adopt strategies that allow consumer security use on personal devices in the enterprise workplace."

Product managers are advised to expand traditional endpoint consumer security product capabilities to include all mobile device platforms alongside traditional desktop and laptop offerings. The report suggested particular attention should be paid to pricing and product go-to-market models, as consumers' propensity to pay is much lower than for traditional desktops and laptops.

In addition, the report advised that consumer security products be targeted at specific audiences, as gender, age and IT skills profiles are key factors in determining certain security demands and willingness to invest into certain security capabilities. Currently, integration of capabilities that stretch across traditional and new mobile device platforms can help providers maintain some momentum and competitiveness as the PC market declines and new opportunities in the mobile device market arise.

The majority of consumers opt for unpaid products in the form of either freeware or products preinstalled on their desktops and laptops, and those who do choose to pay for antivirus software often do so through online channels. Consumer preference for online antivirus products and low spending on mobile security products suggests security providers should use alternative methods for maintaining revenue streams, the report noted.

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

People in a higher-age bracket (50 or older) tend to be more particular about security and are therefore more likely to purchase an antivirus package, while younger consumers are much more likely to turn to free antivirus software when it comes to obtaining security services for desktops and laptops, the report said.