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back to article Win XP? Your PLAGUE risk is SIX times that of Win 8 - NOW

UK-based Windows XP users were six more likely to actually be infected than their counterparts who use more recent versions of Windows, according to figures from Microsoft. The company is likely trying to highlight the infection rates of the 12-year-old OS as a way to get customers to upgrade. It says that 9.1 of 1,000 XP (SP3) …

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Facepalm

"...according to figures from Microsoft."

Enough said!

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Anonymous Coward

So the main point they seem to be trying to make is that a PC that's been switched on an connected to/used on the internet for a much,much longer time is much, much more likely to have a problem. Go figure.

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It's also likely that a fair number of companies still on XP have limited IT budgets to maintain their hardware & software. I mostly see XP in charities and organisations that buy in IT support and consultancy three or four times a year when something goes wrong, and whose IT security policy involves locking the front door when they leave for the day. I migrated a small NGO with around 12 computers from a mix of XP and Vista machines (and one Ubuntu box that noone could explain the existence of) to Windows 7 a couple of years ago, and they didn't even have a password on their WiFi (which explained the number of tourists sitting outside their very centrally placed office with their laptops).

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Anonymous Coward

Registered charities can get Windows dirt cheap from Microsoft. I've been looking into upgrading some server software for a charity I do some work for, as it happens we're going to move from Windows 2003 to CentOS Linux, but that is at least as much because the hardware is 32bit proliant, as it is any other reason.

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I know a MS Reseller.....

...near me who can do MS Reseller Windows 7 Pro Licenses for not a great deal plus a decent dual core 2008 spec Dell Lattitude PC for about £70 to run it on.

I am constantly amazed by the number of small businesses that when I go visit to look at their IT setup, state they cant afford any new IT, too expensive, they only bought it all 2 years ago (read 6), scrimping and saving, worlds smallest violin etc.

Yet I walk past the big house, the M3 in the drive and the new leather sofa being delivered. Or they are an IFA!

If you cannot afford a few hundred quid for new IT from your business contingency budget then..well...what are you doing running a business?

Oh and quit running your business whilst owning only one laptop! Amazed how so many do not have a backup laptop or desktop system to run on.

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The other day I saw a large British bank still running XP. Yes, the manager told me, they tried Vista but that wasn't so good, and they tried 7 but for some reason copped out.

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Why do I need a backup laptop?

If my laptop dies, I just buy another one, hook up to Dropbox etc, and I'm going again in a few hours.

Well that's the perfectly rational thinking of most people anyway. I personally have three, but that's because I have different sw running on them.

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I've seen banks recently running 2k so yeah. There's also a major optician's chain that runs XP on their store customer db access systems with what looks remarkably like an old MS access app.

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Meh

Re: Why do I need a backup laptop?

Good for you Charles, great if you can wait for delivery or live next door to John Lewis. Great if you know how to setup a laptop and transfer 2GB of Outlook 2007 email or Outlook Express into the new world. Migrate Sage accounts or ACT to a new machine or a new OS.

A lot of folks don't.

But they dont think about it until it happens. And in my experience very few still use the cloud in the small business arena. in fact many have just discovered USB sticks.

It maybe 2013 in your tech warren but for the average person it's still 2005.

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One-sixth of nothing

... is still nothing.

Not every XP instance has an internet connection. Some are used solely for dedicated purposes and wouldn't recoognise a connection if it snuck up and inserted itself firmly in their ethernet port.

For boxes (or virtual instances) like this, XP is still perfectly good. In fact, once you remove, or never install, all the malarky involved with keeping the O/S "safe": a euphemism for working around all the security bugs and bad design, it's storms along, incredibly fast.

Just don't plug anything into it.

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Happy

Re: One-sixth of nothing

If you can't plug anything in it does rather limit things. Ideal though for the user experienced in Battleships and Solitaire.

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Re: One-sixth of nothing

I can still create invoices. I can still use a spreadsheet. I can still create powerpoint presentations.

Pretty much the essential of running a business.

And dare I say it, probably makes your staff more productive as well, no faffing around on Facebook.

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So how much more did it cost to research this report than releasing the already created patches for XP SP3?

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@ Ebaneezer Wanktrollop

Along those same lines, I wonder how much of that malware would be eliminated if they were running IE9 instead of IE6 or IE8?

And given the number of corporate web apps that require IE6, maybe MS should release a version of it that runs side by side with IE9 but is restricted to only approved domain connections which are set by group policy. Still a kludge, but maybe a better kludge than what they have.

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Ebaneezer Wanktrollop

I like your name. I will stalk you.

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Re: @ Ebaneezer Wanktrollop

And along the same lines how many times did user's decide to proceed to a site IE flagged as a known source of malware...

This is the real problem with these FUD reports, their real purpose is to encourage sales of Win8 etc. rather than seriously look at the security issue.

From my experience, I suspect that whilst removable media is still an issue, the major threat vector is internet access, which in the main is controlled by a user's browser and their firewall... So the question is whether a pure MS XP system is less secure than one running third-party: firewall, security suite and browser?

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Anonymous Coward

Win XP Box?

Yes, I'd like to. I thought it would be a competition

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Anonymous Coward

meaningless stats

Other than Vista x64, the UAC systems are pretty comparable. The high figure for XP can probably be attributed to the default login-as-administrator setup.

As for W8, the RT ghetto is immune to any malware that is an x86 executable - hardly a ringing endorsement, as it is also immune to the use of typical PC applications.

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Re: meaningless stats

Other major causes of XP infection:

Pirate copies which refuse to operate Windows Update and don't get the holes patched (fixed by MS product activation in later releases)

Product delivered with time-limited copies of Norton Security etc (fixed by MS Security Essentials with increasing effectiveness - now baked-in on Windows 8)

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Holmes

Interesting

The figures for Vista, which has the same underlying improved security system found in Windows 7 and Windows 8, are nearly as bad as those for XP. Now, obviously the chart is supposed to be telling users that the more modern versions of Windows are inherently safer but it can also be read as, the longer an OS is out there the riskier it is and that infection rates like those of XP are only a matter of time for Windows 8.

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Anonymous Coward

Executive summary

Microsoft to XP users: Pay your tithes, biatches.

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Are we confusing cause and effect?

Nobody (much) - including the virus developers community - is developing for W8 because nobody (much) is using it. You don't target an audience which is not there.

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Windows

Re: Are we confusing cause and effect?

Hoist by their own petard some might say.

Microsoft often employed the defence that XP was so much more prevalent and therefore was more targeted as the reason why it had so much more malware than its competitors, not that it was more insecure. However they are now saying that XP is really insecure as a reason to migrate away. They can't now use the defence that more users on Win7 or more likely Win8 is safer, because surely that would make Win7 & Win8 so much more targeted?

There's no amnesia more acute than PR

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Re: Are we confusing cause and effect?

Except that each new version of Windows has included more security features than the previous one.

DEP, memory randomisation etc. came with Vista and 7, UAC came with Vista etc.

Compared to the newer versions XP is less secure. Go back to when XP was the current OS, it was more secure (after SP2) than Windows 2000 or 9x, because they had worked hard on security.

Security is a moving goal. By the time Windows 10 is around, it will have better built-in security than Windows 7 and 7 will look like the proverbial sieve. It just helps the PR people get their point across.

The same goes for Linux, look at the Kernel logs to see how many flaws are patched with each new release. If you compare a Linux box from the time of XP's release to a current one, you'll find a lot of open flaws that make the box easily exploitable, which have been patched over the years and the new box will be more secure "out of the box".

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Re: Are we confusing cause and effect?

Very obvious indeed but a amazed how many choose to ignore it.

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Re: Are we confusing cause and effect?

DEP actually came with XP SP2, and is also present in the 64-bit edition.

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I'm upgrading a lot of WinXP boxes for friends and family at the moment

Mostly to Ubuntu, but to Mint for the ones who want it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm upgrading a lot of WinXP boxes for friends and family at the moment

me too, mainly to Mageia/PCLinux, with VirtualBox of XP for any legacy apps that are still absolutely needed.

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Re: I'm upgrading a lot of WinXP boxes for friends and family at the moment

I can see that working well when they want to play Battlefield 4.....

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Re: I'm upgrading a lot of WinXP boxes for friends and family at the moment

I'm sure there are lots of XP boxes out there that can play Battlefield 4! /S

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm upgrading a lot of WinXP boxes for friends and family at the moment

"I can see that working well when they want to play Battlefield 4....."

I can see that not making a difference since Battlefield 4 requires DX10.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm upgrading a lot of WinXP boxes for friends and family at the moment

Since when has Linux had DX10?

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Facepalm

Re: I'm upgrading a lot of WinXP boxes for friends and family at the moment

"Since when has Linux had DX10?"

Linux has exactly the same DX10 support that XP does.

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Is that...

XP 64-bit at 0 on the chart? That's pretty secure.

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Re: Is that...

That's because anyone running XP 64-bit has to be a freaking wizard to get any drivers to work with it!

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Re: Is that...

Not so: Any driver that works with Windows 2003 x64 will also work with XP x64.

Same kernel, you see...

Finding drivers these days is actually quite easy - it's not 2005 anymore, and 64-bit operating systems are the norm these days, rather than the irrelevant novelty they were back when the Athlon 64 was relased.

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Re: wizardry

>That's because anyone running XP 64-bit has to be a freaking wizard to get any drivers to work with it!

[Casts furtive glances both ways] Yes, yes, I is a wizard. [More shifty staring]

PS: Don't tell anyone that 99.5% of computer security is knowing where to get your porn - at least for us wizards.

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Hardly surprising

XP doesn't implement any of the stuff that was part of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative - UAC, privilege escalation, IP filtering, anti-phishing, address space randomization, driver signing, secure boot etc.

It would mean that somebody using Windows Vista or later has greater security by default than somebody on XP. Especially since the person on XP is probably running as local administrator all of the time because installers and suchlike don't work unless they do.

The biggest security threat still remains - the user. Malware could still convince someone to click and run a program regardless of what security measures the OS implements. e.g. someone I was speaking to recently was almost scared into clicking on a popup which warned their computer was being monitored for illegal activity. If they had clicked (and I assume a lot of people do) undoubtedly it would initiated some kind of malware / ransomware attack.

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Roo
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Re: Hardly surprising

"It would mean that somebody using Windows Vista or later has greater security by default than somebody on XP. Especially since the person on XP is probably running as local administrator all of the time because installers and suchlike don't work unless they do."

Xym, did you actually look at the charts ?

64bit Vista has comparable rates of infection to 32bit XP... I'd love to know why that is the case. :)

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Re: Hardly surprising

You're comparing 64-bit Vista to 32-bit XP.

I don't know the reason. Maybe there was a security hole in their Windows on Windows (WOW) layer - the thing that thunks 32-bit software onto the 64-bit OS. e.g. address space randomization or something. Or maybe Vista 64 users were more inclined to disable UAC and run with admin privileges for some reason.

Whatever it was, it doesn't appear to have affected subsequent releases.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hardly surprising

wild theory: running 64-bit VIsta in 2013 is a sign of ignorance.

Back in the day Vista 64-bit was unpopular due to the lack of drivers and it was mostly used by early adopters. The latter have now moved on to 8.1, and I think that may mean that the remaining 64-bit Vista installations are purchases by clueless friends and family on the advice of early adopter "computer enthusiasts". Early adopters also had a penchant for disabling UAC because it got in the way of installing shareware downloaded from random internet sites.

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Roo
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Re: Hardly surprising

"wild theory: running 64-bit VIsta in 2013 is a sign of ignorance."

That's pretty much the guess I arrived at in the end, although I think I would have used the word negligence - but the net effect is the same. :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hardly surprising

I have a new customer with a few Windows 7 PCs in a small office.

I set the users up as non-admins.

On my last visit, I found someone had switched off UAC on most of the PCs (which I switched back on).

The customer has been installing some apps themselves, so proably PEBCAK as per usual.

Running with admin rights is the main culprit I suggest, especially if UAC switched off.

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Zot
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Re: Hardly surprising

Exactly. I also wonder how many people on here let their kids use a full admin rights computer at home. And rely on a system heavy anti-virus to guard against any threat.

In general though, people should stop going to dodgy web sites, and stop downloading hacked software! Take the view that they ALL have malicious code in them somewhere. Oh and stop putting your email address on competition sites, you're not going to win that iPad, you're going to win advertisement emails from all over the world, and crap knows what else.

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That graph suggests

Windows is very insecure!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That graph suggests

"Windows is very insecure!!"

Actually even XP has had far fewer vulnerabilities than say OS-X or an Enterprise Linux distribution....

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Re: That graph suggests @AC 12:38

I suspect that this is the same AC who always says this, but when challenged provides references to statistics on Web defacements.

There are vulnerabilities in Linux. Many are discovered and posted as a result of code examination (when people started looking for memcpy calls on unbounded buffers a few years back, there was a huge jump in the number of vulnerabilities reported against Linux, even though many of them were unlikely to be exploitable. We just don't know how many of these are present in Windows.

But as a basic desktop box, the protection that UAC provides on Windows Vista+ has pretty much always been there on Linux since it became popular. And as a result it is axiomatic that Linux is more secure for day-to-day use. And out-of-the-box, Linux is much safer to connect to the Internet because fewer services are turned on by default. This is something Microsoft have taken on board in recent Windows releases.

Of course, there are still exploits that take advantage of the wetware, but they will be present on any OS unless it is so locked down that the users cannot do anything.

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Re: That graph suggests

"Actually even XP has had far fewer vulnerabilities than say OS-X or an Enterprise Linux distribution...."

You have mentioned this before (MANY times) - you were trying to be misleading then and are so now

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Re: That graph suggests

He was flat-out lying then and he is now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That graph suggests

See Secunia.org.

XP has about 600 vulnerabilities, OS-X over 2,000 and Suse 10 about 3,800......

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