June 22, 2011, 10:09 AM

Few mobile devices are protected by security software, report finds

But there’s growing appreciation that protection is needed, Juniper Research says.

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Fewer than 1 in 20 smartphones and tablets have add-on security software installed despite a steady increase in threats from device loss and theft, malware, and viruses, a new report finds. However, the increasing extent to which personal and corporate data is stored on mobile devices and the recognition of the need to protect it will create a $3.6 billion opportunity for mobile security software providers by 2016, Juniper Research predicts.

Mobile security software is rapidly becoming as essential on a mobile device as it is on a desktop or laptop computer, the research firm says. The increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets makes this particularly relevant as many users are now accustomed to accessing e-mails, web sites and performing online transactions, such as mobile purchasing, on the go, thereby transmitting and/or storing an increasing amount of potentially sensitive data, the firm adds.

“We believe that the market for mobile security products will go mainstream by late 2013 as the vulnerability of data-centric mobile devices becomes more widely appreciated both in the business and consumer sectors,” says the report’s author, Nitin Bhas. “High-profile security alerts are likely to heighten the public’s awareness of this growing issue.”

Juniper predicts that just as many consumers currently purchase and install Internet security products for their PCs and laptops, they will begin to include mobile devices to the list of electronic devices that they must secure.

In related news, security technology provider McAfee is expanding its mobile device portfolio for consumers with McAfee Mobile Security and McAfee WaveSecureTablet Edition. These mobile device systems offer security safeguards that help consumers secure their mobile devices for personal use, commerce and work.

“With mobile device growth eclipsing PCs, consumers need tools to not only protect their personal information, but also to provide safeguards for business data should they decide to use that device for work,” says Todd Gebhart, executive vice president and general manager of consumer, small business and mobile at McAfee. “The threats to mobile devices are in many ways the same as in the online world. Beyond device loss or theft, users can be hacked, infected or phished on a mobile device just as easily as they can online.”

McAfee Mobile Security software, available for both smartphones and tablets, combines three McAfee mobile security products: WaveSecure, VirusScan Mobile and SiteAdvisor. The software is designed for consumers who want protection for their data and privacy in the event of loss or theft, protection against the growing threats of viruses and spyware targeting mobile devices, as well as protection from web-based threats, such as phishing sites that probe for personal and sensitive information.

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