Global demand for security software for mobile devices including iPhones and tablets could reach $3.7 billion by 2016, Juniper Research estimates.

That would be a sixfold jump from today in a mobile rush that could replicate the demand that security software already has in the market for enterprise computers and consumer PCs, the British market researcher said.

Incidents such as News Corp.'s breaking into mobile phones and the hacking of Google's Android OS have opened the eyes of the public to the dangers of break-ins. Now companies need to take steps to ensure that their armies of employees issued a BlackBerry, an iPhone or a tablet are protected.

"Enterprise users are in the front line against potential security breaches," said Juniper forecaster Nitin Bhas. Only about 5 percent of smartphones and tablets currently have security software installed but the proportion should grow if companies act now.

That could spell major new business for the leading vendors of security software, headed by Symantec and McAfee, now a part of Intel, as well as smaller players that specialize in the enterprise market such as Check Point Software Technologies and Sourcefire.

Sprint on Wednesday announced it would offer McAfee Mobile Security and McAfee Family Protection Android Edition, priced at $29.99 and $19.99 a year.