Introduction to The AV Software Market
We live in a world where user dependence on e-commerce, online communications, and general online transactions are increasing at about the same rate as the threats seeking to exploit them. It is not a stretch to say that the days of safe internet roaming for the average user are over. Most of these “average users” either ignore the threat and get exploited, or invest in some flavor of antivirus software that can be installed on their PC’s to offer up-to-date protection. These Antivirus products are not invincible; in the presence of an active persistent threat, they really aren’t much of a help. However, the risks the average user faces are less than that of an enterprise or high value target of some persistent threat. The average user can find comfort in an AV that protects their devices from malware “such as drive-by downloads, trojanized apps, or malvertising attacks” (Rubenking). Although many of these products often offer similar to the same services, there are differentiating factors that influence which products consumers choose to purchase, and which players in the market have the favorable market shares.
Brief Description & History
It is important to note that the Antivirus market is a fairly new market. This is due to the fact that until the late 80s and 90s, viruses and the modern forms of malware that have come to fruition simply didn’t exist or weren’t a concern the earlier days. However, as devices became more sophisticated so did the threats against them. Brain, “one of the first major outbreaks of a computer virus” is seen as a reference point for the birth of the AV industry during 1966 (Sujith). This malicious code which was developed in Pakistan “infected boot sectors of disks so that their contents could not be accessed” (AntivirusWorld). In 1966, most of the prevalent threats were non-malicious, just damaging and costly to those who experienced them. In the very late 80’s, a group called “Virus-L” was available to “update individuals about security and sharing information, tools, and shareware” to help remove the STONED virus (Sujith). Among the Virus-L group was two of the pioneers in the AV industry, Eugene Kaspersky and John McAfee. McAfee saw an opportunity and started the business we know today “selling software that protects both hardware and software” (Sujith). Soon to follow would be Kaspersky and Norton, both offering products that proved to be successful then and still thrive today. As expected, threats such as “Michelangelo”, “Melisa”, and “ILOVEYOU” that occurred during the 90s and early 2000s were very problematic as computers became more and more involved with the internet (Sujith). AV companies responded to this evolution of the threat landscape with their own developments such as “advancements in detections and [antiviruses that] gained the ability to update itself online, which improved effectiveness” (Sujith). Other advancements were made such as signature-based detection, heuristics, rootkit detection, and real-time protection which are now all basic functions in today’s software. Today’s AV software is at its peak in demand. Companies are responding to the ever evolving threat landscape in aims of outselling the competition and offering top-of-the-line protection for those in need. In fact, the term Antivirus has now become part of the whole to the Antimalware market. Antimalware products are different from antivirus “in their ability to detect threats including PUAs, ransomware, spyware, keyloggers and botnets that cannot be detected by antivirus products alone” (OPSWAT).
Curent state of the market
Because of the large number of products and services offered in bundles for overall cybersecurity, it is impossible to put a number on the market size of the antivirus market. However, to describe how vast the market is for these types of products, the overall cybersecurity market has been valued at “$106.32 billion in 2015” (Misra). The market for antivirus, antimalware, and other critical software and hardware is extremely vast and is expected to grow indefinitely. Avast is the current leader in antimalware and antivirus vendors with a very large share of “21.4%…while Microsoft comes in second with a 19.4% market share” (OPSWAT). These large percentages are a direct reflection of the continued dominance of these two powerhouses in comparison to other vendors in the market. The 3rd largest share in the AV market is AVG with just 8.6% in the market. Avira and Symantec came in 4th and 5th place with shares of 7.4% and 7.1% respectively. McAfee, the company started by the AV pioneer himself holds a 6.2% share of the market. McAfee is followed by several other major players such as ESET with a 4.2% share, Kaspersky Lab with a 3.5% share, Comodo with a 2.6% share, Spybot with a 2.1% share, and Bitdefender with a 1.8% share (OPSWAT). All other non-major vendors combined make up 15.8% of the market. It is important to note that these statistics were based on AV products with “real-time protection” enabled. This real-time protection is essential to some because it ensures that “the users’ machine is being actively being protected” (OPSWAT). Real-time protection means that the software is updated constantly with protection from the newest threats, actively scans user activity, offer suggestions, and ultimately gets rid of the bad stuff.
Leading AV Products
In terms of specific products, the leaders in the market align similarly to their vendors’ with a couple of changes. According to OPSWAT “Microsoft and Avast continue to lead the market” with Microsoft Security Essentials at a 17.8% share and avast! Free Antivirus at 17.6% (OPSWAT). Similar to the general vendor shares, these product shares of the market are far superior to the rest of the major competitors. Avira Free Antivirus has the 3rd largest share with just 5.9% of the market, followed by AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition with 5%. McAfee’s VirusScan software accounts for 3.6% of the AV market along with Symantec’s Endpoint Protection software. The remaining products with major shares in the market are Norton 360 with 2.4%, Kaspersky Internet Security with 2.2%, McAfee VirusScan Enterprise with 2.2%, Spybot – Search & Destroy with 2.1%, and lastly, COMODO Antivirus with 1.9%. Other products not mentioned previously as a major product account for a whopping 35.8% of the market which goes to show how vast the AV industry is (OPSWAT). The AV industry is a very dense industry to say the least, with plenty of opportunities for new participants and development.
Future of the AV Market
All research and common sense points towards substantial growth in the AV industry. This is due to the fact that it has become almost a necessity to do business and communicate online. For this particular market, it doesn’t take extensive research or knowledge of statistics to infer that the demand for antivirus software will increase for years and years to come. There is speculation on the enterprise side that “antivirus is dead” in the face of the new threat landscape (Misra). Although this is ultimately the sad truth for big companies and government entities that have the high-value targets that APTs typically go for, this assumption doesn’t account for small-businesses and the growing number of people who use computers in general. The AV industry is estimated to “grow by more than 11 percent in the next 4 years” due to factors such as increased internet usage, cloud services, and basic protection needs (Misra). Also, another major factor in the growth of the antivirus industry is the growth of mobile antivirus technology. As mobile devices eat into the PC market and become more and more favored over traditional desktops and laptops, “consumers will begin to recognize the need for antivirus protection on mobile devices” (Misra). Another player in the market which wasn’t included in the research was Windows Defender, a default program installed on Windows 8 and 10 systems. This program is actually very useful and its use is increasing due to its improved performance recently. This software comes preinstalled so it is not a product actively sought out by consumers in the marketplace. However, it can be assumed that it may play a big role in driving the direction of the market moving forward as it is free and windows still controls a substantial part of the PC market.
At the end of the day, AV software will continue to be a lifesaver to some, and a useless tool to others. However, it is an important layer in system security and best practices are to maintain as many layers as possible to keep secure information safe. AV will be more and more utilized in suites that do many other things to protect systems as well as in the mobile market which looks to make a gigantic leap as mobile security has become a hot topic. If nothing else, antivirus will remain an integral piece to the puzzle when keeping systems secure and available.
Rubenking, Neil J. “The Best Antivirus for 2015.” PCMAG.com. PCMAG, 25 Nov. 2015. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.
Sujith. “A Brief History of Antivirus Software.” TechLineInfo. TechLineInfo, 13 Oct. 2013. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.
“History Of Computer Viruses.” AntivirusWorld.com. AntivirusWorld, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.
Misra, Amit. “Antivirus Software Industry Growing, Despite Reports of Decline.” Dazeinfo.com. Dazeinfo, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.
“Antivirus and Compromised Device Report: January 2015.” OPSWAT.com. OPSWAT, 23 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.
“Top Anti-Malware Vendor Market Share & Device Security Report.”OPSWAT.com. OPSWAT, 21 Aug. 2015. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.