The future of the anti-virus industry will be determined by Microsoft, criminals and ever-changing malware, according to Eugene Kaspersky, Head of Anti-Virus Research at Kaspersky Lab. Eugene Kaspersky has isolated three areas that are likely to have the biggest influence on the anti-virus industry:
The software giant’s plan to introduce anti-virus solutions for home PCs, workstations and MS Exchange will shake-up the market. Kaspersky predicts that Microsoft will not make the same mistake as it did when it first launched an integrated anti-virus solution 12 years ago, and will pay attention to consumer demands for better detection rates, faster reaction to the dramatically increased number of attacks, frequent updates and proactive technologies.
Kaspersky also envisages a safe future for any anti-virus vendor whose engine is integrated in to Antigen. Microsoft will not be selling the product itself, but taking a percentage from the vendor. The benefits for Microsoft are clear: the company can sit back and enjoy the profits; and the ideology of a ‘multi-engine solution’ will transform the anti-virus business in to a trade in engines, rather than products.
Kaspersky sees no reason, however, to write off vendors whose anti-virus engines are not integrated in to Antigen. He argues that no solution is 100% effective against all threats and the more troublesome a virus, the more likely plagued PC users are to embrace new technologies to rid themselves of the problem. For Kaspersky, the key to survival for anti-virus companies is solving compatibility issues, so that engines from different developers can co-exist effectively.
Criminalisation of the internet
Crimeware has increased two-fold during the past 12 months, strongly indicating criminal activity on the Internet has doubled in the same space of time. In terms of law enforcement, investigating cybercrime is a complex task, particularly when taking into account the fact that the Internet has no physical borders.
Kasperksy predicts that anti-virus companies that fail to deal with the proliferation of crimeware and the sheer volume of new malicious code will suffer a dip in market share and lose unrecoverable ground in the anti-virus race.
Increased variety of malware and attack methods
The vast majority of malicious programs are written for Win32 systems, and the number of malicious programs targeting Linux, MacOS, and smartphones (running under a variety of operating systems) is still, as yet, insignificant.
However, anti-virus companies have to be prepared to cope with a wide variety of malware and platforms. This means not only releasing products, but providing continued support: testing them, and releasing updates for the whole product range. Companies that cannot keep up with the very latest technological developments will not be able to break into new industry segments. Moreover, they will start to lose ground on their own territory, and current competitors or completely new players will take advantage of new market opportunities.
In conclusion, Eugene Kaspersky says that Microsoft’s entry to the IT security market will be a decisive factor in the course the anti-virus industry will take, impacting the best-known industry players and signalling a shift in the market share currently enjoyed by anti-virus companies.
He believes the most negative consequences will be felt by:
1. Publicly held companies
2. Businesses which rely on income from the market sector which Microsoft is entering
3. Microsoft manufacturers with engines which are inferior in quality to Microsoft’s
4. Manufacturers whose engines aren´t used in Antigen
While the brightest future awaits:
1. Privately held companies
2. Manufacturers with a broad product range
3. Manufacturers with a high-quality engine
4. Manufacturers whose engines are used in Antigen
Eugene Kaspersky is hopeful that the arrival of the software giant in the IT security market will have a positive impact on future developments in the anti-virus industry and will raise the quality of security solutions.