Posted by Adrienne Hall, general manager, Trustworthy Computing

Today Microsoft releases volume 14 of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, which provides trends and insights on security vulnerabilities, exploit activity, malware and potentially unwanted software, spam, phishing, malicious websites, and security trends from 105+ locations around the world. This SIR focuses on the threat landscape in the second half of 2012 and includes trend data from previous periods.

Here’s a short summary of what you will find in the latest SIR data: industry-wide vulnerability disclosures are down; exploit activity has increased in many parts of the world; several locations with historically high malware infection rates saw improvements, but the worldwide malware infection rate increased slightly. Windows 8 has the lowest malware infection rate of any Windows-based operating system observed to date; Trojans continue to top the list of malware threats; spam volumes went up slightly; and phishing levels remained consistent.

We’ve also included some new, previously unpublished data in this volume of the report that helps quantify the value of using antimalware software. Characterizing the value of security software in a way that resonates relative to other IT investments persists as a challenge for many organizations; especially those who have successfully avoided a security crisis for a long period of time. The value of antimalware software is often the source of discussion by Security professionals. 

Based on telemetry from over a billon systems around the world, Volume 14 returns the data on malware infection rates for unprotected systems versus systems that run antimalware software.  The verdict is in: systems that run antimalware software have significantly lower malware infection rates, even in locations with the highest malware infection rates in the world.  This data will likely help many people understand the value of using antimalware software – which we continue to consider a best practice and strongly recommend to all of our customers.

I hope you find this volume of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report useful and enlightening. I also encourage you to visit http://microsoft.com/sir and read my colleague Tim Rains' Official Microsoft Blog post. Please let us know your thoughts about the latest SIR by commenting below.