Is mobile anti-virus even necessary?

Experts disagree over whether or not there are any immediate threats to mobile devices that can be addressed with anti-virus software. Should you invest in AV for your smartphone or tablet?

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It's no secret, or at least not anymore: people generally do not use any sort of anti-virus or malware protection on their mobile device. Recent IDC research has indicated that only 5 percent of all smartphones and tablets have some sort of security tools installed on them, raising the question of whether or not that kind of software is even necessary.

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While it's true that this statistic included both enterprise and consumer audiences, they are often one in the same. According to Dionisio Zumerle, a principal research analyst at Gartner, BYOD adoption can range anywhere from 15 percent to upwards of 50 percent within a company depending on various factors like security requirements, form factor, industry, and risk appetite.

There's no question that a significant chunk of these devices that are free of any sort of anti-virus protection are being used in enterprise scenarios. The first question, then, is why that's the case.

Determining threat levels

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