Feeds

1 in 6 Windows PCs naked as a jaybird online

Millions snub antivirus, firewalls in web poll

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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." ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat
'Sophisticated' spies, DIY tech and a TROLL ARMY – report
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?