The antivirus software business is expected to grow to $4.3 billion by 2025.
Half a century ago, the first computer antivirus in history was programmed: Reaper (mower), to deal with Creeper (creeper), the first virus. Since then, threats have evolved as technology has penetrated our daily lives. Antiviruses have tried to adapt to the challenges that arise, but their level of complexity makes it necessary that users cannot simply delegate to a protection tool, but have to actively play a role and take precautionary measures while using their tools. devices. “A lot of people think that paying for an antivirus will automatically protect them, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Not by investing in it are they going to be protected, ”says Josh Brunty, digital forensic and professor at Marshall University (West Virginia, USA).
Ángela García Valdés, a Cybersecurity Technician for Citizens at the National Cybersecurity Institute (INCIBE), insists that we should have an antivirus “on all our devices, even on smart TVs (smart TV)”, although, agrees that ”this does not mean that we have everything insured. We have to continue to make safe and responsible use of the internet.” This responsible use includes difficult-to-guess passwords, two-factor authentication where it can be activated, downloading applications only from official stores (Play Store and App Store, depending on the operating system) and avoiding access to unreliable web pages. .
“The antivirus is going to solve problems that are not complex attacks, but if it eliminates a simple virus that can make you bitter one day, it is already worth having it installed,” explains Javier Tobal, cybersecurity expert and computer court expert. “How much effort do you need to install an antivirus? It takes two seconds,” he insists.
However, some experts such as Josh Brunty consider that the system that software companies include out of the box, such as Windows Defender, is sufficient if additional protection measures are carried out, so it is not essential to install a third-party antivirus, and much less a paid version, since threats have evolved so much that understanding them is really essential.
The companies of software antivirus defend that their products offer “additional layers of security to those that the operating system itself has”, as explained by Josep Albors, director of research and awareness of the computer security company ESET in Spain. “They always give you the possibility of buying one for a fee; It must be for a reason… ”, he suggests. This extended version usually includes the possibility of receiving technical support in the same language and from the same country at almost any time, the installation of patches or remote management functions. Albors laments: “This service is rarely valued until something happens.”
Brunty warns that, by requesting the services of an antivirus “you may be duplicating what you already have, something that is already integrated (as in the case of Defender), at least if it is properly activated”. However, Albors raises what happens with those tools that are specific to the system and that are used by attackers to achieve their objectives: “These are not malware or viruses, are tools that Windows itself has, for example, and are used in many attacks, more and more every day. How do you detect that? With Defender, no, but with analysis tools and detection of malicious actions”. And he adds: “Perhaps it is much easier for an attacker to bypass a system integrated into the operating system itself, than a third-party system that is specialized in cybersecurity.”
Europe is the second region with the largest antivirus market share, behind the United States, according to the report Global Antivirus Software Market 2021: COVID-19 Growth and Change”, by ResearchAndMarkets.com. This market moved more than 3,000 million euros in 2021, according to this same report, and the business is expected to increase to 4,300 million dollars in 2025. According to a study by Security.org, US households that pay for antivirus software outnumber those with a free version installed by nearly 10 million. The same company estimates that 8.9% of users with a free version experienced some malware in 2021, while that figure was 7.4% of those who had a paid one.
According to the same study, three out of four users in the US continue to use an antivirus despite the fact that more and more software companies offer this service, such as Microsoft. For Javier Tobal, precisely this technology’s antivirus service “comes out very well in independent analyses, just like Macbook’s. The good thing about it is that you activate it and forget about it and it does not offer much lower protection than the others.”
Valdés recalls that antiviruses ”offer many more services: they serve as firewalls, they include filters antispam, optimize the performance of computers, some have web addresses analyzed, and even parental control tools. Hence, each user has to see what he wants or needs”.