Microsoft offers new data on malware infection rates worldwide

Microsoft has been gathering information about malware infection rates on Windows PCs for some time now, thanks to data from its Microsoft Security Essentials program as well as Windows Defender for Windows 8. This week, the company released the malware encounter and infection rates for 2013, including the top 10 countries for both sets of info.

In a blog post, Microsoft stated that the worldwide average malware encounter rate for 2013 was 21.44 percent, with the country of Pakistan on top with 55.22 percent. The numbers only showed the malware infection rate for the fourth quarter of 2013, with the worldwide average at 17.8 PCs cleaned per 1,000 and the country of Tunisia on top at 49.5.

In all 10 countries with the highest malware encounter and infection rates, Microsoft says that the Rotbrow trojan family was a major threat. The blog states, "Researchers have observed Rotbrow installing browser add-ons and other malware. It is commonly packaged with malware used to alter browsing behavior and monetize ads." Brantall, Ramnit, Autorun, Sality, Gamarue and CplLnk were also detected in eight out of the top 10 malware countries.

As usual, most PC users can avoid having their machine infected by taking a number of common sense steps, including updating all of their software to their latest versions, keeping antivirus definitions up to date and not clicking on links or files from unknown sources.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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MSE has actually beaten many other AntiVirus (both paid and free) in several tests. Moreover, it really doesn't matter what AV you use, they will all end up with the same definition sets (at least the important ones). Yes, you can argue that other AV might have better "live" protection, but in the end, this is a serious trade off. I will use Norton as an example. Norton's sonar is extremely obtrusive and will get false positives all the time. It is also a resource hog. Additionally, AV software like this is far too sensitive. Many times, it will simply delete a legit exe that you download solely on the basis that not many other Norton users have used this software. In the end, Norton puts you through all this BS and you still end up with a virus.

I find a great combo is MSE, MalwareBytes, and common sense.

There are also some great FREE plugins for browsers that will help prevent you from getting a virus in the first place. For example, NoScript for Mozilla Firefox is excellent!

Unfortunately MSE and WD probably only detect less than half of all threats, like all AV's, so this data is a gross understatement of the real number of infected Windows PC's worldwide.

For such a basic AV MSE's detection rate is around 85 percent detection rate, some other free alternatives are worse than this... but no AV can detect 100%. I think what let's MSE down is it will only auto update the virus definitions once every 24hours, needs to be more like every 2 or 3 hours really. Unless you manually update... But if you common sense when surfing the Internet, then MSE is more than adequate.

And this is what Microsoft's AV detected. It's safe to say any decent engine would detect 50% more viruses then MSE. So in the case of Pakistan more then 70% of the computers are infected.
Myself I cant remember the last time I actually got infected :D

The high percentage of Infection mostly pertains to the still active usage of WIndows XP SP2 as the preferred platform in most households, offices & govt. institutions. In addition, the majority of the users are clueless about the infections as the majority uses pirated software (no affordable alternatives available), its not surprising to see such high infection rates (I'm from Pakistan).

I alternate between Ubuntu & Windows 7 myself, since I've switched to almost 99% free open-source software use, I've not seen an infection on my PC since 2010. I've not felt a terrible need for using an exclusive A/V protection other than MSE, as its the least intrusive and has least resource usage and is quite adequate for my needs.

I really don't see that many virus or malware infections anymore, most of what i see if from #### packs, or from people downloading something from the wrong source and getting about 10 things of adware along with it!

warwagon said,
I really don't see that many virus or malware infections anymore, most of what i see if from #### packs, or from people downloading something from the wrong source and getting about 10 things of adware along with it!

A pitty a lot of freeware is filled of crapware, addware that ends infecting the systems.

I'm with WarWagon here. The majority of what I see, and I see a LOT, is bad downloads from bad sources, usually sources that are at the TOP of the paid search results for both Bing AND Google. Why not do some investigative reporting Neowin on that practice from those guys?

Consumers just don't know better, and they shouldn't have to. That's why the PC landscape will soon be split into the phone and tablet users, that basically can't get their machines infected, and those of us that actually know how to use a computer, and know what not to click on. In the meantime, the phone will keep ringing for guys like us, and Windows will continue to get the blame for the clicking mistakes of the userbase.

Not true at all and is a very bad misconception.

According to arstechnica.com the IE 8 malware hole works by an assembly level call where a pointer is not dereferenced and a hacker put javascript in a way where it executes as a server/administrator without any checks or user interaction at all whatsoever!

Seriously old browsers and even newer ones to a lesser degree you just visit a page with an infected adserver and your machine is owned and everything bypassed as the hackers crack and workaround the OS with insertions of instructions directly to RAM.

Some sites have +20 ad networks on them and all it takes is one to get 0wned.

Yes it is that bad folks and no user interaction required. So any idiot on here who says I DO NOT NEED AV SOFTWARE I AM SECURE is a moron who does not understand how computers work.

So yes running XP with IE 6 which does not even have a sandbox is like swiss cheese. Remember javascript today is a full language JIT compiler. If it is designed to run code well you are going to have access to run it. That is what it is designed to do and getting outside of the bounds where no checks are to insert assembly level code into .dll files is the excersize hackers do today to install keyloggers.

Funny countries who still have a majority use XP and also use IE 6 have higher infection rates. I want to see China as 1/3 still use IE 6 and 80% use XP

It also has to do with basic computer knowledge and security information accessible to the populous. Just look at the names on that list. I've been to three places on that list and have seen it first hand.

JHBrown said,
It also has to do with basic computer knowledge and security information accessible to the populous. Just look at the names on that list. I've been to three places on that list and have seen it first hand.

Populace.

I want you to take another look at the list, the commonality has more to do with the size of the population and the correlation to activity/poverty/piracy and older software.

If you look closely, several of the countries on the list have a higher level of technical knowledge per capita, than many more wealthy 'western' nations.

Mobius Enigma said,

Populace.

I want you to take another look at the list, the commonality has more to do with the size of the population and the correlation to activity/poverty/piracy and older software.

If you look closely, several of the countries on the list have a higher level of technical knowledge per capita, than many more wealthy 'western' nations.

Yeah, I caught that error after the edit time had elapsed. Responding from a phone on the go!