Feeds

1 in 6 Windows PCs naked as a jaybird online

Millions snub antivirus, firewalls in web poll

3 Big data security analytics techniques

One in six Windows PCs worldwide are hooked up to the internet with no basic security software, according to a study by McAfee.

The computer security firm's study, conducted across 24 countries using data from an average of 27 to 28 million personal computers each month, found 17 per cent of machines were running with either disabled or nonexistent antivirus software and firewall defences.

The survey's figures come from anonymised data voluntarily submitted by consumers around the world using the free diagnostic tool McAfee Security Scan Plus. The Windows-only software checks the user's computer for threats, antivirus software and firewall protection.

Web surfers who install Scan Plus are likely to have a problem with their computers that prompted them to use the technology in the first place - so they might be less well protected than the general population. McAfee's figures are thus probably best regarded as indicative rather than definitive.

The US ranked in the bottom five least-protected consumer PC populations, with 19.32 per cent of punters living without basic security, according to McAfee's stats. The situation was much better, but still not exactly brilliant, in Finland where only 9.7 per cent of consumer PCs went unprotected.

The lack of antivirus software puts valuable documents, such as pictures and financial records, at risk of destruction if malware corrupts a system. A separate study found that consumers globally say 27 per cent of their digital files would be "impossible to restore” because they are not backed up properly.

McAfee has a clear self-interest in talking up the need for consumers to run antivirus suites. Along with Symantec and Kaspersky Lab, it is the main supplier of paid-for security software to consumers, after all. Many basic and perfectly functional antivirus packages for Windows are also available from the likes of Avira, Avast or AVG. Microsoft also supplies a basic antivirus scanner.

Each of these scanners are far from effective at blocking brand-spanking new banking Trojans or botnet agents, but they are the best defence (along with patching) punters have against ruthless hackers. So the question arises: if security software is important, why isn't everyone running it?

McAfee reckons that some consumers avoid using antivirus software in the mistaken belief that they are unlikely to be hit by viruses.

"Many consumers still believe that by simply sticking to known 'safe' sites, they’ll be protected from all forms of malicious content," McAfee comments in a blog post about its scan results, published on Tuesday.

"The fact is: the prevalence of sophisticated attacks is rising at an alarming rate. Furthermore, with the adoption of smartphones and tablets, mobile malware has become an immediate threat due to easily accessible personal data like financial and credit card information stored on mobile devices." ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Reddit users discover iOS malware threat
'Unflod Baby Panda' looks to snatch Apple IDs
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.