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May 19th, 2008

Research Shows Vista Is Almost As Vulnerable As Its Predecessors

According to Techworld, an analysis from the Australian company “ThreatFire” reveals that Vista is almost as vulnerable as its predecessors. ThreatFire user base shows that 58,000 PCs running Vista were compromised by at least one piece of malware over the six months to May 2008, equivalent to 27% of all Vista machines probed. Vista made up 12.6% of the 1,513,502 machines running Windows in the user base.

In total, Vista suffered 121,380 instances of malware from its 190,000 user base, a rate of malware detection per system is proportionally lower than that of XP, which saw 1,319,144 malware infections from a user base of 1,297,828 machines, but it indicates a problem that is worse than Microsoft has been admitting to.

Just one week ago, PC Tools revealed that Vista was as likely to be hit with software vulnerabilities as Windows 2000, a claim that was denied by a Microsoft staffer in a blog. As PC Tools makes clear, that malware was detected did not mean harm had been done, simply that Vista’s own security had in some way been circumvented to the degree that its ThreatFire tool stepped in.

PC Tools notices that all systems used in the research pool were at the very least running PC Tool’s ThreatFire and that because the technology is behavioral-based, the data refers to threats that actually executed and triggered behavioral detection on the client machine. In response to alternative research from Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool, PC Tools highlights that the MSRT is not a comprehensive anti-virus scanner, but a malware removal tool for a limited range of “specific, prevalent malicious software”.

PC Tools also publicized details of some of the malware types it has found on Vista systems during its scans, including three pages of variants based on Trojan.Agent, a few of which were described as serious.

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