Hackers Target WinXP; Experts Urge Win7 Now: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

Windows XP continues to represent the single biggest target for hackers, according to security experts who also suggest these threats could initiate a considerable push for home and business users to upgrade to Windows 7.

The recent discussion is based on Microsoft's early 2010 "Security Intelligence Report Volume 8," or SIRv8, which covered the six-month period July 2009 to December 2009. The report found that the United States continues to be the top spot for malware threats, with populous China running second, just in front of Brazil.

WinXP Vulnerabilities Behind Push to Windows 7

An examination of the report reveals that malware threat detections decline about the time of Microsoft's release of Windows 7, hailed by many security experts as a safer alternative to Windows XP.

Still, most businesses have been slow to adapt. According to Tami Reller, corporate VP and chief financial officer for Windows and Windows Live, about three in four businesses continue to use the decade-old operating system (OS), even to this day. (Source: mcpmag.com)

However, experts believe that could change soon. Recently, Microsoft terminated support for the highly-used Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), forcing most to upgrade to Windows XP SP3 (whose support should continue into 2014) or to Windows 7. Given the widely-reported danger in using XP versus Windows 7, experts believe a movement towards the newer OS could begin to emerge in the next year or so.

"Windows XP SP2 is a widely deployed operating system and is now no longer supported by Microsoft," noted Shavlik Technologies' Jason Miller, a data and security team leader. "We could see a significant uptick in exploits for Windows XP. Most companies should have addressed this issue already. But, a lot of home users probably do not know that their operating system is at risk."

Windows 7 SP1 Increases System's Appeal

Increasing the appeal of Windows 7: word that the OS' first Service Pack, SP1, could be due in early 2011. That will help new users catch up with all the system's updates in one neat and tidy package. (Source: seattlepi.com)

Still, Miller believes Microsoft has more to worry about than just pushing users towards Windows 7. He believes the software giant has been too slow in patching critical vulnerabilities: a case in point might be the company's recent struggles with a Windows shortcut flaw affecting all versions of the OS, an issue that has been addressed by less-than-satisfactory workarounds thus far.

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