Criminals and software giant Microsoft hold the key to the future of the anti-virus industry, according to an anti-virus expert.
Eugene Kaspersky, head of anti-virus research at Kaspersky Labs also warned that the increased variety of malware and attack methods will part a significant part in the development of the industry in the next few years.
Kaspersky said a particular cause for concern is programs which advocate “cheap computers for poor third world countries”.
“These further encourage criminal activity on the internet. Statistics on the number of malicious programs originating from specific countries confirm this: the world leader in virus writing is China, followed by Latin America, with Russia and Eastern European countries not far behind.,” he said.
Kaspersky predicted that Microsoft's focus on security has left the industry “in a state of shock”.
“Everyone remembers Netscape and other independent projects, which either significantly lost market share or disappeared altogether after Microsoft produced similar products,” said Kaspersky.
He said Microsoft plans to introduce anti-virus products for home users, corporate users and its own Exchange product. He said that Microsoft would not make the same mistakes as when it launched an anti-virus product, MSAV, in 1994.
"The most important thing is that consumer demand for quality has increased: detection rates, speed of reaction to the dramatically increased number of attacks, frequency of updates, proactive technologies," he said.
Kaspersky said that 'crimeware' has increased twofold during the past 12 months, “strongly indicating that criminal activity on the internet has doubled in the same space of time," he said.
He concluded that some anti-virus companies will have to "start cutting their budgets and thinning the ranks of their employees."
“Public companies will find that Microsoft’s entry to the antivirus market will impact the value of shares, and a fall in value will have the following negative consequences,” he said.