Windows 7 Infection Rates Rise Dramatically But XP Users Twice As Likely To Pick Up Malware

According to Microsoft’s latest Security Intelligence Report – a free 146 page, 3.32 MB .pdf download – the rate of infection of Windows 7 machines increased considerably over recent months.

The rise in malware infections could be as high as 182% this year but the software giant says users may be to blame for the disappointing figures –

“Early adopters are often technology enthusiasts who have a higher level of technical expertise than the mainstream computing population. As the Windows 7 install base has grown, new users are likely to possess a lower degree of security awareness than the early adopters and be less aware of safe online practices.”

On the face of it, this does seem like a fair assertion – no security software or training can adequately defend a user who themselves employs poor methods of work.


To put things into perspective, however, the infection rate on machines running the older Microsoft Windows XP is about double. Data captured through the use of Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool shows that roughly one per cent of all scans on XP machines revealed an infection compared with only half a percent of similar scans on Windows 7.

There are of course many possible reasons for this variance, as explained by Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group director –

“There are several factors at play here. In XP, for example, we’ve seen infection rates go up because of particular pieces of malware that are more effective on that platform,” said Rains in an interview. “[And] in different places in the world, [users’] ability to keep Windows up to date varies greatly.”
Tim Rains

And it should also be noted that the figures also include some programs which many of us would not consider to be malware in the traditional sense – i.e. keygens which, although often associated with malware, are not generally in and of themselves a direct threat.

With the release of Windows 8 coming on October 25th it will be interesting to see how the figures change in the next Security Intelligence Report…

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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