Microsoft has released its latest bi-annually Security Intelligence Report covering the first half of 2012 which offering a worldwide threat assessment for that period. One of the highlights of the report is the average infection rate of popular Microsoft client and server operating systems. According to the report, Windows XP SP3 systems are on average twice as likely to get infected as Windows Vista or Windows 7 systems. The system with the lowest number of average infections is the 64-bit version of Windows 7 SP1, with 3.1 infections per 1000 computers compared to XP's 9.5 infections per 1000 computer systems.
It is interesting to note that infection rates for 64-bit versions of Windows 7 are lower than infection rates for 32-bit versions of the operating system version.
When you look at the trend chart, you will notice that the average infection rate of Windows XP and Windows 7 systems is on the rise, while that of Windows Vista has dropped significantly in the first half of 2012. Windows 7 infection rates only increased slightly in the first half though, while Windows XP infection rates made a huge jump to over 10.0 in the second quarter of 2012. This jump is attributed to the worm family Win32/Dorkbot and the trojan downloader Win32/Pluzoks by Microsoft.
Miscellaneous trojans lead the thread category listing, followed by the potentially unwanted software, worms, adware, trojan downloaders and droppers and exploits.
It needs to be noted that the report is looking at the big picture, and while that means that Windows XP SP3 systems have a higher average infection rate than Windows 7 systems, it does not mean that individual XP systems are more likely to get infected than Windows 7 systems. In the end, it comes down to updates, the software that is installed on the system, the security of the system, the user's activities and other factors.
You can download the full report from the Microsoft SIR website.
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