XP ‘Six Times More Likely To Get Infected’ Than Windows 8

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Microsoft says XP really isn’t all that safe to use when compared to its latest OS

Microsoft is super keen to get people off of Windows XP before it flips the kill switch on support early next year, claiming users are six times more likely to be infected than Windows 8 users.

That’s despite the fact users of both operating systems have “encountered” similar amounts of malware, as 17 percent of XP and 13 percent of Windows 8 users had nasty software thrust at their machines in the first half of 2013.

On 8 April next year, Microsoft will finally kill support for XP, ending security updates and general support for the OS. Yet many in the UK, including government departments and major media organisations, continue to use XP.

‘Time to move to Windows 8’

microsoft windows store

According to Jeff Jones, director at Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing team, businesses are just procrastinating. The company usually only offers enterprise support for 10 years around a product, but extended that for XP, which was launched in 2001.

“Your risk profile is much higher if you’re using XP today,” he told TechWeekEurope. “From a risk point of view move to one of the newer [Windows versions].

“When XP goes out of support, that risk is going to increase drastically. Can you keep using it? Sure. Should you keep using it? You should assess your risk and see what is appropriate.”

Jones claimed the app store model provided users’ with more secure software, as Microsoft vetted each app, scanning it and toying with it to ensure it’s legitimate. Google’s Android OS has been plagued with rogue applications making it onto official and non-official stores.

Windows 8.1, the latest release, has numerous security benefits over its predecessors. It has killed off one of the most concerning issues, known as “pass the hash”, where authenticating servers use the hash of a password to accept users. That means hackers don’t even have to bother cracking cryptographic hashes of passwords.

Microsoft’s research, released this week at RSA Conference 2013 in Amsterdam, also found the top threats facing UK users were malicious iFrame tags, the rogue security software Win32/Sirefef and JS/BlacoleRef, a script pointing browsers to Blackhole.

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