Windows 7 Malware Threats Rising Fast: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

According to a new report from Microsoft, Windows 7 and Windows XP users are now facing more malware threats than ever before. Meanwhile, the number of malware programs designed to infect Vista machines is decreasing.

Microsoft released these findings in its semi-annual Security Intelligence Report, which provides a review of security threats and infections faced by users of Microsoft products during the first half of 2012.

Threats to Windows 7, XP On the Increase

In the report, Microsoft says the average number of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) machines infected by malware rose by 23 per cent on 32-bit systems, while 64-bit systems faced an increase of just 7 per cent (compared to infections during the last quarter of 2011).

Also facing more threats than before: Windows XP SP3 machines. According to the Microsoft report, they are now two to three times more likely to be infected by malware than a PC running the 32-bit edition of Windows Vista.

Microsoft reports that Vista machines have the lowest infection rate of all its operating systems. Windows 7 SP1 follows in second place, which is impressive given how much more popular Windows 7 has been than Vista. (Source:

New Users, Windows 7 Popularity Blamed

In searching out reasons for the increased number of Windows 7 SP1 infections, Microsoft points squarely at less knowledgeable PC users.

"Early adopters are often technology enthusiasts who have a higher level of technical expertise than the mainstream computing population," the Microsoft report said.

"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." (Source:

Users with "security awareness" are more likely to install anti-virus and anti-malware security software, even if they use only Microsoft's free Security Essentials utility.

Such users are also likely to be more careful when connected to the Internet, taking care when visiting new websites and avoiding email attachments sent by unknown parties.

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