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Study Finds Windows PCs Bring Biggest Risk for Network Malware Infections

Study Finds Windows PCs Bring Biggest Risk for Network Malware Infections

by Stephanie Faris on Monday, September 21 6:00

As the prevalence of mobile devices has increased in recent years, systems administrators have been warned. All of this equipment opens up a business to security issues that can drain resources and put your company s hard-earned reputation at risk. But a new study contradicts that line of thinking slightly, demonstrating that the biggest danger to company networks is the same device that has put it at risk for years.

The study, conducted by Alcatel-Lucent s Motive Security Labs as part of its twice-yearly malware report, revealed that the vast majority of malware infections come through Windows-based PCs. To arrive at the results, the company looked at the overall infection rate during the first half of 2015, finding that the overall infection rate for mobile devices had actually declined from 0.68 percent to 0.50 percent between January and April of this year. Meanwhile, Windows machines are responsible for a full 80 percent of all malware infections.

What This Means for Your Windows Machines

The report reveals that criminals still tend to target Windows PCs in their attacks, despite the fact that mobile use is now more prevalent than PC use. Criminals likely realize that mobile devices are shared between various operating systems, which means there are fewer Android devices than Windows, for instance. By targeting Windows-based equipment, hackers can infect a larger number of machines at once, especially in the business environment, where criminals are most likely to be able to access large databases of sensitive customer information.

For IT administrators, this means a return to ensuring workplace desktops and laptops have the latest virus definitions. Since many employees now use laptops that they take on the road with them, systems administrators are often challenged to keep up with the status of virus software, since they can capture this information only when the user is connected to the network. Businesses should also invest time and energy into training employees on proper security procedures, including responsible password use.

What This Means for Your Mobile Devices

Although this report highlights the importance of tightening Windows-based PC security, businesses shouldn t completely neglect their mobile devices. As smartphones and tablets continue to grow in popularity, it s likely only a matter of time before criminals begin targeting these devices in their efforts.

In addition to ensuring each device has a passcode, businesses should try to discourage employees from using work devices for personal tasks like surfing the Internet, playing on social media, or checking personal email unless these activities are part of their job duties. Devices should also be set up to be remotely swiped and should have operating system updates applied on a regular basis. Systems should also be set up to track each device s operating system and generate reports on command.

Administrators have long worked hard to ensure their Windows PCs are secure against malicious software. Even in today s mobile-oriented environment, businesses should still put Windows PC security as a top priority, since hackers are continuing to target these devices when they attempt to wreak havoc on a business s server infrastructure.

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