But that doesn’t tell the whole story. The fact is that XP machines are already more infectious than their newer counterparts. A study published in October 2013 showed that Windows XP machines are infected far more often than their windows counterparts, on a per malware encounter rate. A malware encounter is simply the machine coming into contact with malware in the wild, but it does not necessarily mean infection. It simply means that malware was encountered. The basic idea is that malware is encountered at a high rate by Windows 7 machines. Malware criminals aren’t stupid. They know more people are using Windows 7 today, so they are going for volume. But the study also showed that the number of malware infections per encounter for Windows XP SP3 was nearly double that of Windows 7 SP1. Add in Windows XP SP2, and the number of infections per encounter nearly tripled.
Endpoint protection will help. The number of infections of an unprotected system can be five or more times higher on an unprotected machine. But there is always a zero-day threat that may not be covered. On a machine where exploits are no longer being patched, the possibility of infection will only increase as time goes on.
Solution: Upgrade all XP machines to Windows 7 or Windows 8. Keep endpoint security up-to-date, and add a web and email security solution that protects against malware both on and off premises.
As we move into the New Year, these five security predictions should remain in the forefront for IT managers and business users. In addition, companies will undoubtedly face a range of new threats as the computer industry evolves, and as cybercriminals continue to develop new fronts in their attacks on personal and business data. So this year it will be more important than ever to remain vigilant and stay keenly alert to these kinds of ongoing privacy threats and security breaches.