It's not Microsoft's fault you're too stupid to protect your PC

You may want to sit down, because I know this will comes as a shock, but it turns out that if you do not have antivirus software installed and enabled on your PC then you are more likely to get malware.  If my truck gets stolen the next time I am at the store then I am more likely to walk home also.

Okay. I am making light of a serious study, but the statement from Microsoft that "malware infections [are] 5.5 times more likely without antivirus software" lends itself to a bit of levity.

In fairness, I recommend all users run antimalware and antivirus software, even though I fail to heed my own warning. Microsoft also has no horse in this race, as its own security tools are available for free. The company does, however, have a vested interest in protecting its customers -- that is just good business sense.

The new report is available now. "People intuitively understand the importance of locking their front doors to prevent their homes from being broken into. Computer security is no different. Surfing the Internet without up-to-date Antivirus is like leaving your front door open to criminals", Tim Rains, director of Trustworthy Computing for Microsoft, says. "With the release of this new research, Microsoft is urging people to make sure they have up-to-date Antivirus installed on their computers".

The report goes on to point out the greatest threats to computer users, including many that will seem obvious to the tech crowd that visits BetaNews.

Do not click on unknown email attachments. "Microsoft detected and removed malicious email attachments from almost 3 million computers in the fourth quarter of 2012". The report points out that "On average, about 24 percent of computers scanned by the MSRT each month in 2H12 were not running real-time antimalware software or were running outof-date antimalware software at the time they were scanned".

Websites for free or discounted software should be avoided (exceptions to reputable sources like Woot and Groupon) and simply paying attention to your protection software. A surprising number of users allow antimalware to expire.

A couple of things go unmentioned in all of this -- first and foremost is that Microsoft, without naming itself, implies Windows is not safe without security software. Second, this entire thing brings up the specter of the recent news that Bing displays more malicious sites than rival Google in search results. My take is a bit different.

The report states that "the RTM version of Windows 7, which had the highest percentage of unprotected computers of any platform...also displayed the highest infection rates for unprotected computers, with a CCM of 20.4 for the 32-bit edition and 12.5 for the 64-bit edition". No surprise given the market share.

However, Windows 8 is not immune, just better protected. "On Windows 8, which had the lowest infection rate overall, unprotected computers have an infection rate (CCM) that is 16.2 times greater than the infection rate for protected users" -- though it still points to having a software program to second-guess the user.

A couple of things go unmentioned in all of this -- first and foremost is that Microsoft, without naming itself, implies Windows is not safe without security software. Second, this entire thing brings up the specter of the recent news that Bing displays more malicious sites than rival Google in search results. My take is a bit different.

While all of this may sound dire, Microsoft is simply doing what is in its own best interest -- trying to protect the average user, which is probably 85 of its 90 percent market share. The company is not implying that Windows 8 is unsafe -- it is the safest version of the operating system yet.

In fact, much of what is pointed out is user behavior, which is what really needs to change in order to make the computing world a safer place.

Photo Credit: Peter Bernik/Shutterstock

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