Microsoft report shows better security

Written by Phil Cogar

October 30, 2007 // 2:22 p.m.

Tags: #adware #malware #microsoft #removal #security #spyware #virus

Microsoft has just released the third volume of its Security Intelligence Report, which reports on the malware released between January and June 2007 and the effectiveness of its Malicious Software Removal Tool.

Overall statistics show greatly decreased infection rates in Windows Vista and Windows XP SP2 when compared to older versions of the Windows OS.

One point of interest is that there has been a decrease in operating system vulnerabilities with third-party applications taking over a higher percentage of total malware-infested code. This could show one of a few things; with the growing interest in the computer world as a hobby, more third-party software coded by enthusiasts could have higher vulnerable to malicious code.

Another possibility is that, as Microsoft works to keep its OS code secured tightly, virus-coders are changing their focus to popular third-party software as a way to access systems.

Yet another possibility is that third-party applications are gaining popularity over common Microsoft offerings. The OpenOffice project is rising in functionality and popularity. Mozilla’s offerings of both Firefox and Thunderbird as replacements for Internet Explorer and Outlook/Outlook Express respectively are rapidly gaining in popularity too. The Opera browser has also been gaining market share steadily ever since it became freeware, and iTunes is now the media player of choice as its Music Store introduces new features on a seemingly daily basis.

It seems as if every day there are more options for third-party software to replace programs that all provided by Microsoft in tandem with the OS.

All the statistics show that Vista and XP SP2 are much safer than older versions. During the examined period, XP without service packs comprised the majority of infected systems at 32.9 percent. XP SP1 follows not too far behind with 20.9 percent and then it’s a large jump to XP SP2, which made up 7 percent of total infected systems. Unsurprisingly, Vista held the smallest amount of infected systems at 2.8 percent. All these numbers have been normalized, meaning they’ve been divided by the number of total systems reported running that OS to account for the difference in the number of machines running each iteration of XP versus Vista.

Have you noticed a decrease in your viral load or do you run your own software to deal with malicious code giving you a sense of security over Microsoft offerings? Let us know over in the forums.

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