Microsoft today announced the Australian findings of the latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIRv7), which provides an in depth and unique view of the online threat landscape faced by Australians. The findings are based on data derived from hundreds of millions of computers around the world, including Australia. The report indicates that Australia’s malware infection rate is significantly lower than the worldwide average. Microsoft estimates that 3.9 systems in Australia are infected for every one thousand systems on which Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) is executed. In contrast, the worldwide average is 8.7 systems per one thousand executed, more than double Australia’s infection rate.
The report also revealed that while malware continues to outpace other security threats, Australia’s overall malware infection rate declined by six per cent during the first half of 2009, compared with the preceding six months.
SIRv7 shows that out of the top security threats in Australia, seventy per cent were malware and thirty per cent consisted of potentially unwanted software. In addition, nineteen of the top twenty five threats consisted of malware.
The most prevalent threat in Australia, in terms of the number of computers infected, and the third most common threat worldwide, is "Renos," a Trojan downloader. Renos automatically downloads potentially unwanted software onto computers and typically presents erroneous warnings claiming the system is infected with spyware. The Trojan then offers to remove the alleged spyware for a fee, and in some cases, causes system instability.
The second most prevalent threat in Australia, and the fourth most common threat worldwide, is “Zango Search Assistant,” a form of Adware which monitors Web browsing activity and displays pop-up advertisements related to the Internet sites being viewed.
“It’s been said that knowledge is power and the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report allows us to provide our extensive analysis of the Australian and global threat landscape with our customers, partners and the broader industry, along with guidance to ensure people are better protected,” said Stuart Strathdee, Chief Security Advisor, Microsoft Australia.
“Microsoft is committed to providing not only security intelligence for our customers and the community, but also an accurate and comprehensive view of the realities of the threat landscape.”
The security intelligence contained in SIRv7 is collected through a broad community of customers around the globe to help obtain a view of the threat landscape. Reporting mechanisms for the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report are diverse and comprehensive, including Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), on 450 million computers worldwide; Bing, which performed billions of Web page scans during the past six months; Windows Live OneCare and Windows Defender, operating on more than 100 million computers worldwide; Forefront Online Protection for Exchange and Forefront Client Security, scanning billions of e-mail messages yearly; and Windows Live Hotmail, operating in more than 30 countries with hundreds of millions of active e-mail users.
“Armed with the information made available from Microsoft in this report, we can work closely with customers to help them understand the threat landscape they face every day,” said Scott Gosling, National Practice Manager – Microsoft Services, Data#3, Microsoft’s Worldwide Security Partner of the Year.
“Ultimately, we can ensure that security solutions are put in place to manage and miminse risk in the most effective way possible. The sheer volume of data that Microsoft now makes available to provide evidence of the threat landscape through their commercial and consumer security products is further evidence of Microsofts advances in the provision of security solutions.”
The Security Intelligence Report in Practice
Microsoft recommends customers and organisations use the data and prescriptive guidance outlined in the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report to assess and help improve their security practices. The following are some of the top proactive steps Microsoft recommends for individuals and businesses:
- Turn on automatic updates and update other non-Microsoft software regularly.
- For consumers, ensure that your anti-virus / anti-malware software is up-to-date and running. If you do not have an up-to-date solution then install Microsoft Security Essentials, which is complimentary for genuine customers, and available for download at www.microsoft.com/security_essentials.
- Understand how Microsoft assists you in maintaining your Microsoft software. The newly released Microsoft Security Update Guide, available from the Microsoft Download Centre, will help customers understand the security update release process and all of Microsoft’s supporting resources. It also explains the Microsoft security communication process and provides guidance on how to plan an update management program, including when and how to implement temporary work-arounds.
- Developers should be using the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL), http://www.microsoft.com/sdl, or a similar software security assurance process.
- Consider updating to newer versions of your existing software or at least installing updated service packs to ensure you are using the latest technology to protect against the latest threats.
- If you do get into trouble, seek professional assistance from a reputable vendor or expert.
A full list of Microsoft’s guidance, a downloadable version of SIRv7 and other related resources are available at http://www.microsoft.com/sir.
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