Written By: Security.org Team | Published: February 3, 2021

Among the many challenges brought on by COVID-19 has been an increase in reported scams, particularly online scams such as phishing. The Federal Trade Commission first saw spikes in reports on April 24th, 2020, peaking in May with 1,479 reports in a single day.

The security software market, currently estimated to be $224 billion globally, is intended to protect consumers and businesses from cybercrime, hacking, and related risks. This report looks specifically at the U.S. personal antivirus software market, which is software intended to protect personal computers and other connected devices from malware and other viruses brought on by cyber-criminals.

We find that awareness among Americans of antivirus software is at an all-time high at 91 percent. Along with awareness, usage is also at an all-time high as 82 percent of internet-connected U.S. households, or around 86 million households total, report using the software.

Of these, roughly 45 million households report paying for antivirus software for personal use (there are many free versions on the market).

Here are some other key findings:

  • We estimate the U.S. personal antivirus market to be about $1.8 billion, based on a $40 average annual cost and 45 million households who pay for antivirus software for personal use.
  • Nine percent of American heads of households report being open to purchasing antivirus software in the next six months “if a need arose,” representing a significant near-term opportunity.
  • The brand with the most consumer awareness is McAfee at 91 percent recognition.
  • The older someone is, the more likely they are to use antivirus software; those over the age of 60 are the most likely to use antivirus software at 85 percent.

Table of Contents

  1. Antivirus Market Size
  2. Who Is Aware of Antivirus Software?
  3. Who Uses Antivirus Software?
  4. When Did You First Purchase Antivirus Software?
  5. Why Do People Use Antivirus Software?
  6. Have You Gotten A Virus While Using Antivirus Software?
  7. How Many People Pay for Antivirus Software?
  8. How Do People Feel About Antivirus Software?
  9. Why Don’t People Use Antivirus Software?
  10. Conclusion
  11. Methodology

Personal Antivirus Market Size

Recent census data estimates that there are 122.8 million households in the U.S., and 85 percent of all U.S. households have internet access. Eighty-two percent of consumers reported using antivirus software, of which just over half (52 percent) pay for antivirus. This amounts to an estimated 45 million households, with an average annual cost of $40, for a personal antivirus market in the U.S. of $1.8 billion.

Moreover, our data indicate future growth for the U.S. antivirus market. Google Trends data has shown a 269 percent increase in searches for “best antivirus software” from 2018 to present day, indicating that more and more people are interested in buying antivirus software.

Who Is Aware of Antivirus Software?

Ninety-one percent of heads of households in the U.S. are aware of antivirus software, while six percent were not sure of their awareness and three percent were not aware.

Are you aware of antivirus software? Responses
Aware 91%
Not aware 3%
Unsure 6%

Next, our research compared awareness of the most popular antivirus software options. The brands with the most consumer awareness are McAfee at 91 percent, and Norton at 90 percent. However, all of the other software options such as Malwarebytes, Kaspersky, and Avast have consumer awareness rates at 35 percent or lower.

Are you aware of any of the following antivirus brands (select all that apply). Awareness from Survey
None of the above 2%
Vipre 4%
ESET 5%
Trend Micro 11%
Bitdefender 15%
Webroot 15%
AVG 28%
Avast 30%
Kaspersky 32%
Malwarebytes 35%
Norton 90%
McAfee 91%

Who Uses Antivirus Software?

Overall, 82 percent of U.S. households reported using antivirus software. While all ages report high usage of antivirus software, age overall was correlated with adoption.

Do you use antivirus software?  Yes, for business use, personal use, or both business and personal use No
18-29 73% 27%
30-44 83% 18%
45-60 84% 16%
> 60 85% 16%

However, it’s not clear why antivirus software usage increases with age, as adults over 60 are less likely to get viruses than adults between 30 and 60.

Have you gotten a virus or malware in the past? 18-29 30-44 45-60 >60
Yes 18% 29% 27% 26%
No 17% 26% 30% 26%

 

When Did You First Purchase Antivirus Software?

The majority of antivirus software-users bought it before 2018 at 70 percent, while only 13 percent bought it last year, in 2020.

When did you first purchase antivirus software? Responses
2020 13%
2019 6%
2018 11%
Prior to 2018 70%

Why Do People Use Antivirus Software?

Forty-one percent of antivirus software-users, or 45 million households in the U.S., use it for personal use only, while another 32 percent use it for both business and personal use; in total, 73 percent of households use antivirus software for personal use. Only nine percent of antivirus-using households, or nine million households, used it for work use solely, implying that once people start using antivirus software for work, they are inspired to use it on personal devices, as well.

Why do you use antivirus software? Responses
Personal use only 41%
Business use only 9%
Business and personal use 32%
Do not use 18%

Similar to the results of our VPN usage research, nine out of 10 antivirus-users use the software for general security, followed by general privacy at 62 percent.

What are the biggest reasons that you use antivirus software? Select all that apply. Responses
General security 90%
General privacy 62%
Required for job 25%
Increased security for online shopping 45%
Use public Wi-Fi without risk 22%
To secure VOIP phone calls 4%
To protect cryptocurrency exchanges 6%
Other 3%

Have You Gotten A Virus While Using Antivirus Software?

Half of our survey’s respondents have gotten viruses or malware in the past, but the plurality of these cyber attacks occurred more than a year ago. Forty-one percent of U.S. households reported having a virus or malware over a year ago, while only nine percent had viruses or malware in the past year.

Have you gotten a virus or malware in the past? Responses
Yes, in the past month 2%
Yes, in the past 6 months 3%
Yes, in the past year 4%
Yes, more than a year ago 41%
No 50%

How Many People Pay for Antivirus Software?

Over a third of antivirus software-users use free antivirus software, while 52 percent pay for antivirus software for personal use.

Do you pay for antivirus software? Responses
Yes, I pay for my antivirus software that I use on personal devices for personal reasons. 37%
Yes, I pay for antivirus software on personal devices used for personal reasons, while my employer pays for antivirus software on work devices used for work purposes. 15%
No, I use free antivirus software. 33%
No, my employer pays for my antivirus software. 12%
No, someone else pays for my antivirus software that's neither me nor my employer. 2%
Other 2%

 

How Do People Feel About Antivirus Software?

In general, people reported positive feelings about antivirus software. Ninety-three percent of respondents found it somewhat to very useful, while 98 percent found it somewhat to very effective.

Responses How useful do you think antivirus software is? How effective do you think antivirus software is?
Very 50% 45%
Somewhat 43% 53%
Somewhat not 4% 1%
Very not 3% 1%

Why Don’t People Use Antivirus Software?

Sixty-five percent of people who don’t use antivirus software reported that they don’t need it for neither personal nor business uses. A third of non-users say that antivirus software is too expensive, while 36 percent cited other reasons for their non-usage.

Why don't you use antivirus software? Responses
Too expensive 30%
Don't need for personal use 47%
Don't need for work use 18%
I don't want it for another reason 13%
Other 23%

Moreover, three-quarters of non-users did not plan on buying antivirus software in the next six months, while five percent of households reported that they would buy antivirus software if they had a personal need.

Are you planning on buying antivirus software in the next 6 months? Responses
Yes, if I have a personal need 1%
Yes, if I have a business need 4%
Yes, if I have a personal or business need 4%
No 74%
Unsure 16%

Conclusion

In general, eight out of 10 U.S. heads of households that use antivirus software are pleased with it, rating it both effective and useful. Plus, five percent of non-users are planning to invest in personal antivirus software in the next six months, so we expect increases in usage for the $1.8 billion personal antivirus market. As COVID-related cybercrimes and scams continue to proliferate online, more and more people are using antivirus software to improve their data security.

Methodology

The majority of our data regarding the antivirus market came from a survey of 841 heads of U.S. households that occurred in January of 2021. We also used Google Trends data from 2018 to the present, data from Statista, the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics, and AV-Labs, along with our own data from purchasing and testing each antivirus software mentioned. To learn more about how we test antivirus software, read our antivirus guide.