The 3 most important findings from Microsoft’s latest Security Intelligence Report

Microsoft released its 15th Security Intelligence Report last week, packed with facts and stats about the security threats facing Web users in the UK and around the world. The SIR is the world’s most comprehensive security report, since it’s based on data from a wide variety of Microsoft services on more than 1 billion systems around the world, including 400 million active accounts.

The full report contains insights and stats for more than 100 countries – but which parts are most relevant to healthcare workers in the UK? We’re pulled out the 3 most important findings below:

1)     Identify the most dangerous malware families: Devices that are stilling running Windows XP are especially vulnerable to the most dangerous families of malware on the planet. Sality targets Windows executable files with the extensions .EXE or .SCR and can steal your personal information and lower your PC security settings. Ramnit steals sensitive information, such as bank user names and passwords and can also give a hacker access and control of your PC and stop your security software from running. Infection usually comes via a removable drive, such as a USB flash drive. Vobfus is a worm family that can be used to download other malware onto your system. It is usually downloaded by other malware or spread via removable drives, such as USB flash drive.

 2)    Spot the most common exploits: Web-based threats, such as those delivered via HTML/JavaScript are still the most common type of exploit, with Java exploits and operating system exploits rounding out the top 3. The single most common exploit is the IframeRef, which uses specifically formed HTML inline frame tags to trick users into going to websites hosting malware.

3)     Antivirus software alone can’t protect you: The single biggest security improvement a system can make is to move to a modern operating system like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. No amount of Antivirus software is going to be able handle the “zero day” exploits that will surface after official support for Windows XP ends on 8 April. The report finds that while machines on modern operating systems and Windows XP machines encounter a similar amount of malware, Windows XP machines get infected 6 times as frequently. Windows XP machines still make up more than 1 in 5 computer on the planet, making them an irresistible target for hackers once support ends.

You can download the full the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report and learn more about its findings here.

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