The mobile malware threat is becoming stronger every day due to the increased sophistication of mobile phones. Yet, mobile anti-malware vendors have not seen a high return on investment because of lack of awareness in the market.
Despite this, it is important for vendors to set up technology and distribution partnerships with other members in the industry value chain in order to be fully prepared when the market accelerates.
New research from growth consulting company Frost & Sullivan finds that the worldwide mobile anti-malware products market is expected to earn revenues of just $61,4-million in 2007, but to take off to reach an estimated $2,17-billion in 2014.
"Mobile phones are becoming ever more sophisticated, smartphone usage is rising, and advanced capabilities such as MMS, Bluetooth and internet access are increasingly becoming standard features in phones," notes Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Katie Gotzen. "However, few people realise that it is these extra capabilities that make mobile malware attacks possible."
The cybercriminal industry has been tremendously successful in the PC world. In just a few years, several billions of Euros have been made from malware attacks such as online identity thefts and stealing enterprises' intellectual property.
Encouraged by their growing sophistication, online criminals are now turning their attention to mobile phones. Mobile threats have been increasing exponentially over the last few years – five times as many security events were reported by mobile operators in 2006 than in 2005.
At present, however, the total number of attacks remains low. Low threat levels are paralleled by low levels of risk awareness among both corporate and consumer segments.
"Even though awareness is slightly higher in the enterprise space, mobile malware is not a top-of-mind issue," says Gotzen. "These perceptions have led to a low level of demand for mobile anti-malware products, and have consequently dampened vendor revenues."
Despite the low current level of ROI, it is important for mobile security vendors to invest in R&D and go-to-market strategies. Both product development and distribution in the anti-malware industry are heavily reliant on partnerships in the value chain. Mobile operators specifically are often the catalysts of network security and handset protection agreements, making it incumbent on anti-malware vendors to target them in order to boost sales.
"Setting up these partnerships tends to be a long process," explains Gotzen. "Therefore, anti-malware vendors that forge partnerships in the industry value chain today will be in a good competitive position when the market accelerates."