Tim Rains

Di­rec­tor Microsoft Trust­wor­thy

HWM (Singapore) - - Trends - BY JAMes LU

What are some of the se­cu­rity threats fac­ing PC users today? Mal­ware has grown tremen­dously over the past twenty years. In the last quar­ter of 2012 alone, ma­li­cious doc­u­ments were de­tected and re­moved from over 3 mil­lion com­put­ers world­wide. Today, the most dan­ger­ous threats to PC users range from po­ten­tially un­wanted soft­ware, to tro­jans, worms and ad­ware. How does Sin­ga­pore com­pare to the rest of the world? Sin­ga­pore gen­er­ally has a lower in­fec­tion rate than the rest of the world, with about 3.7 com­put­ers cleaned for ev­ery thou­sand scanned with Microsoft’s Ma­li­cious Soft­ware Re­moval Tool, com­pared to 6 for the world­wide av­er­age. There has also been an over­all de­cline in in­fec­tion rate, both in Sin­ga­pore, and on a global scale. Why is that num­ber de­clin­ing? A large part of it is thanks to newer op­er­at­ing sys­tems, as more users up­grade to Win­dows 7 and 8. Newer op­er­at­ing sys­tems ben­e­fit from more up-to-date ver­sions of Microsoft’s SDL (Se­cu­rity De­vel­op­ment Life­cy­cle). What is the SDL? The SDL di­rec­tive is a com­pa­ny­wide process at Microsoft for per­form­ing reg­u­lar code re­vi­sions to re­duce se­cu­rity is­sues and re­solve se­cu­rity vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. Each piece of soft­ware re­leased by Microsoft is based on a par­tic­u­lar SDL ver­sion, so newer soft­ware will ben­e­fit from the lat­est se­cu­rity im­prove­ments, as well as all the things we’ve learned from pre­vi­ous ver­sions. Are there any spe­cific se­cu­rity threats that Sin­ga­pore­ans face? The most com­mon type of se­cu­rity threat in Sin­ga­pore in Q4 2012 was un­wanted soft­ware, which af­fected 38.4% of all com­put­ers with de­tected in­fec­tions. This num­ber has ac­tu­ally risen from 28.4% the pre­vi­ous year. Specif­i­cally, the most com­mon in­fec­tion is the Win32/key­gen soft­ware, which af­fected 14.6% of all com­put­ers with in­fec­tions. Win32/key­gen gen­er­ates key li­censes for pi­rated soft­ware, but may also com­pro­mise the se­cu­rity of the com­puter, as well as other le­git­i­mate soft­ware it is run­ning. What can PC users do to pro­tect them­selves against se­cu­rity threats? The most im­por­tant thing is to make sure your com­puter is pro­tected with anti-virus soft­ware. In Sin­ga­pore alone, 29% of all com­put­ers have out-of-date or no an­tivirus pro­tec­tion; and, we have found that com­put­ers without AV pro­tec­tion were 5.5 times more likely to be infected. We also rec­om­mend keep­ing all of your soft­ware up to date and patched to the new­est ver­sion. All Win­dows 8 ma­chines come with Win­dows De­fender pre­in­stalled. Is that enough pro­tec­tion or do users need to buy third-party An­tivirus? We con­sider Win­dows De­fender to be the base­line level of pro­tec­tion re­quired. Third-party anti-virus pro­grams may of­fer ad­di­tional fea­tures which you may find use­ful and might be pre­pared to pay for, how­ever, that is up to you to de­cide. What do you think of the study con­ducted by AV Test that showed that Microsoft’s Bing search en­gine was five times more likely to show re­sults with mal­ware in them com­pared to other search engines? Un­for­tu­nately, the method­ol­ogy used in that study was flawed. AV Test uti­lized an API (Ap­pli­ca­tion Pro­gram­ming In­ter­face) to gen­er­ate the search re­sults. Bing, how­ever, has its se­cu­rity fea­tures at the User In­ter­face level (which is by­passed by the API); there­fore the re­sults were not ac­cu­rate. Bing ac­tu­ally has a num­ber of se­cu­rity fea­tures to warn users against mal­ware and other se­cu­rity-risk web­sites. A user us­ing, for ex­am­ple, In­ter­net Ex­plorer, will be warned against any threats and can take ac­tion ac­cord­ingly. Many users feel that Macs are safer than PCs when it comes to viruses and mal­ware. Is there any truth to that? The truth is, if you’re con­nected to the In­ter­net, what­ever de­vice you’re on, whether it is a Mac or a PC, a tablet or a smart­phone, you’re vul­ner­a­ble to at­tack. It’s im­por­tant to re­al­ize that no de­vice is truly safe, so no mat­ter what de­vice you’re us­ing, you need to use ap­pro­pri­ate anti-virus soft­ware to pro­tect your­self.

No mat­ter what de­vice you’re us­ing, you need to use ap­pro­pri­ate

anti-virus to pro­tect your­self.

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