Almost every year, there is a major debate as to whether antivirus software is still relevant. Incidents of hacking and threats from Trojans, viruses, malware and adware question the very need of investing in antivirus software. The idea of antivirus software goes back to 1987, and since then this technology has improved continuously to fight new threats and viruses. In spite of regular updates and improvements, the basic approach of this technology has remained the same: it continuously looks for ‘signatures’ in the incoming data from downloads, removable media, and other sources. Signatures are patterns of characters that indicate the presence of malicious files. Whenever a signature is identified, it is quarantined to prevent compromise of the system.
Until recently, antivirus software could for the most part identify major security threats, which is why it was considered the mainstay of security efforts for most businesses and home users. However, today, not only can a new virus spread at a speed that is difficult for vendors to fathom, but virus authors have also learned to produce variants with changes in their signature to easily evade antivirus programs. Moreover, with malware variants made easily available in kit form, it is fairly simple to create a malware variant and get it out to the internet. It is because of such developments that many question the very future of the antivirus software market.
So, is the market for antivirus software dead?
In spite of several shortcomings, it would be impractical to believe that antivirus software packages do not have a future. This software does help in the basic detection and removal of bots, viruses, keyloggers, worms, Trojans, and spyware by scanning the entire hard drive. It also performs network scanning, reduces the chances of data theft and alerts the user about a virus before it causes damage to the computer.
In fact, there are several antivirus software packages that are specifically designed for Android and iOS users. Therefore, it would be far-fetched to assume that antivirus software has no advantages or has become completely obsolete. Vendors are including features like remote detonation, whitelisting, sandboxing, and privilege restriction to their products. Even industry experts believe that malware virus creation is an ongoing process, therefore what is required is regular the regular upgradating of arsenals against these threats.
After taking various industry drivers and challenges into account, market analysts at Technavio predict the global market for antivirus software packages to grow at a CAGR of around 10% by 2020. With growing dependence on the internet, increase in the number of online transactions, and rise in cyber crime, the demand for antivirus software is sure to increase further. Vendors like Microsoft, AVAST, McAfee, and Avira have already created highly improved versions of antivirus software for personal as well as business purposes.
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