The Windows 7 operating system has been lauded as a safer operating system than its predecessor Window Vista. Despite overtaking Vista in terms of market share this year, Windows 7 is still far behind Windows XP, which remains the most popular operating system and the biggest target for malware writers.
"Cybercriminals will always look for the easy targets," says Mikko Hypponen. "It's likely that XP attacks will still be around for a number of years.”
In July 2010, Microsoft stopped issuing updates for Windows XP Service Pack 2. At that time, we estimated that 10% of our customers were still using XP SP2, potentially leaving them open to exploitable vulnerabilities.
The security implications of using outdated operating systems have been demonstrated by reports that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could in part have been caused by the failure of computers that were still using Windows NT 4 from 1996.
Hypponen says, "It is irresponsible that a billion dollar oil drilling operation did not bother to keep its computers up-to-date and as secure as possible."