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NEW YORK (Reuters) - AT&T Inc plans to launch a wireless security service for consumers next year to help combat a big rise in cyber attacks on mobile devices, a top executive said.
As more people use smartphones like Apple Inc's iPhone and Google Inc's Android-based devices to download Web applications, John Stankey, the head of AT&T's enterprise business, said he had seen a big spike in security attacks on cellphones.
"Hackers always go to where there's a base of people to attack," Stankey said in an interview ahead of the Reuters Technology Media and Telecommunications Summit.
The company already sells security services to businesses, helping them protect their workers' cellphones. But it has yet to offer consumer services such as anti-virus software as it has had a tough time trying to sell them.
"I do believe it'll become as relevant in the mobile space as it is today in the desktop," he said, referring to subscription anti-virus software services currently available for PCs. "You'll see that occur in the wireless world."
Stankey said AT&T would probably launch such services in 2012.
Consumers have been reluctant to pay for these services as most feel there is little risk.
"When you start asking them what's your willingness to pay for a solution, if they're not a little frightened, their willingness to pay is nothing," Stankey said. "It'll take a little time for this in the mass market."
But the reluctance to pay will probably change in the coming year as consumers become more aware of security threats, he said.
Editing by Lisa Von Ahn