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Windows Vista: The 'safest' Microsoft OS? Avast thinks so

26 Apr 2019
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If you have Windows 7, 8, or 10 on your home computer, you have a 20% chance of encountering cyber threats of any kind – or at least that’s according to research from Avast’s Global PC Risk Report 2019.

Despite Windows 10’s focus on security – and Microsoft’s most recent operating system, the report found that Windows 10 home users are the most likely to encounter an 'advanced attack’.

That type of attack is a new, not yet seen before threat designed to bypass common protection technologies in security software such as URL filtering, mail scanning, signatures, heuristics and emulators.

“Windows 10 home users are slightly more at risk than users of other Windows operating systems of encountering an advanced threat, with a risk ratio of 6.39%, which is likely due to the fact that, according to the Avast PC Trends Report 2019, two out of five users use the operating system. The global usage of an operating system is something cybercriminals take into consideration when testing the effectiveness of their malware.”

The report found that the safest Windows version was actually Windows Vista. Why? Because not many people use it anymore (it accounts for 2% of all Windows operating systems currently in use). This means it’s not an attractive target for cybercriminals.

The list of operating system ranked from ‘most at risk’ to ‘least at risk’ are: Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7, Windows XP, and finally Windows Vista.   (But let's not forget that older operating systems like Vista and XP are no longer supported by Microsoft, so there's also less protection).

“Windows Vista home users have a threat risk ratio below 10% for all threats and a 1.6% risk ratio for advanced threats. The same is true for business users, where Windows Vista users have a 7% chance of encountering any kind of threat and a 1% chance of encountering advanced threats.”

While New Zealand home PC users can breathe a sigh of relief that they’re not the worst region in the world that’s affected by cyber nasties, it doesn’t mean you can ditch your antivirus and click on any old link just yet.

The report determined the top 10 countries with homes most at risk of encountering any type of threat. Afghanistan topped the list, followed by Iran, China, Ethiopia, Palestine, Egypt, Vietnam, Madagascar, Laos, and Myanmar.

Finland is ranked as the most responsible country, followed by the Netherlands, the United States, Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, and Denmark.

"Cybercriminals create threats that take advantage of the activities carried out by home users and rely on consumers being less aware of digital security," says Avast security evangelist Luis Corrons. 

“Conversely, businesses usually have restrictive browsing policies in place and entire IT teams dedicated to keeping networks secure. At home, without realising it, we can engage in far more risky online activities without enjoying the same level of protection."