Worms, Trojans and rogue software known as 'scareware' continue to plague UK firms, but the UK is ahead of most of its global peers in protecting against such threats, according to the latest figures from Microsoft.
The seventh biannual Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, released today, is one of the most comprehensive on the market, as it uses Microsoft's extensive footprint on consumer and corporate desktops and the web.
The report comprises information gleaned from scans using Microsoft's Bing search engine, and data from the Forefront Protection for Exchange cloud service, as well as Live OneCare and Windows Defender products and the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) which runs on 450 million PCs worldwide.
The research, which covers January to June 2009, found that Trojans are still the single largest threat category, and that worm infections doubled. As a threat category, worms jumped from fifth to second place, boosted by the activity of the high profile Conficker and the less-well known Taterf.
Taterf primarily targets massively multi-player online role-playing games, looking to harvest gaming credentials. However, it could be of concern in the corporate environment as it can transfer via USB keys brought in to the office and plugged into the corporate network, according to Microsoft.
"In many ways it's the modern day version of an old boot sector virus," said Microsoft UK head of security Cliff Evans.
"We'd recommend, in addition to automatic updates, firewalls and up-to-date anti-virus, that users never log into an account unless they're on a machine they trust, and don't download cracks or tips unless from a trusted server."
The number of rogue security software instances detected or cleaned dropped from 16.8 million in the last report to 13.4 million, but scareware still represents a significant threat, the report said.
Yet despite the figures, Evans was optimistic about the UK's security posture. For every 1,000 scans conducted by the MSRT, only 4.9 UK PCs had to be cleaned up, down from 5.7 last year and far lower than the global average of 8.6, placing the UK just outside the top three.
"In terms of preventing online crime, it's up to everyone. No one individual or company can do it alone," he added.
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