Director Microsoft Trustworthy
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 In Singapore alone, 29% of all computers have out-of-date or no antivirus protection; and, we have found that computers without AV protection were 5.5 times more likely to be infected.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.