Vista as insecure as Windows 2000

Good news for users of Windows Vista. According to figures compiled by PC Tools, the OS has experienced only slightly more vulnerabilities than Windows 2000, which appeared eight years ago when malware was far less common.

Or is that the bad news? Despite having a reputation as the least vulnerable of Microsoft's operating systems, Vista still managed to record 639 unique vulnerabilities over roughly the last half year, which puts it in a worse position than the aging Windows 2000, which experienced 586 over the same period.

Windows XP, which still accounts for the overwhelming volume of the Windows user base, had 1,021, with Windows 2003 Server reaching 478.

The Australian security company collected statistics on the number of infections by analyzing figures from anonymous users of its ThreatFire community, with vulnerabilities double-confirmed by third-party anti-virus engines. The numbers are per 1,000 machines on each platform.

"Microsoft has invested a great deal in making Vista more secure, by providing a number of security enhancements which were not in prior Microsoft operating system releases," concluded PC Tools CEO, Simon Clausen. "But industry experts have been reluctant to confirm its improved resistance to malware with good reason."

"Since its launch, Microsoft has flagged the increased level of protection Vista provides as one of the key reasons why consumers should upgrade from Windows XP to Vista. If Microsoft's forecasts for the operating system are correct and Vista's market share increases significantly, we could expect infection rates to increase further on Vista," he added.

The problem with these bare statistics is that they make no mention of how serious these vulnerabilities were -- Vista has recorded few that come into the 'most serious' category by comparison with XP. They also don't specify where the vulnerabilities were uncovered. The majority of vulnerabilities are not in the OS itself and are traced to problems in browsers, for instance, and can even apply across platforms.

Microsoft would also point out that the user access control (UAC) feature of Vista stops malware from exploiting the OS without the user at least being aware that something is happening. Windows 2000 and XP lack even this basic level of protection.

On the other hand, Vista has had its embarrassing moments, securitywise. Only weeks ago, Microsoft had to explain how the .ANI animated cursor bug was allowed to find its way into Vista code without being patched as part of the much-vaunted Security Development Lifecycle (SDL).

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E. Dunn

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Essentials

Brother MFC-L3745CDW Colour Laser Multifunction

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?