Windows 10 vs Windows 7: Microsoft's newer OS is almost 'twice as secure'

The volume of malware seen on Windows 10 devices is far lower than on Windows 7 machines, according to one security firm.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft frequently claims Windows 10's security features protect consumers and businesses from the latest ransomware attacks that strike Windows 7 and earlier versions of the OS.

Now security vendor Webroot has reviewed malware infections on Windows 10 and Windows 7 machines running its antivirus last year and found Windows 10 was "twice as secure" as Windows 7.

That conclusion is based on the observation that on average each Windows 10 machine had 0.04 malware files present while the average for Windows 7 machines was 0.08.

Overall, 15 percent of all files it identified as malware were on Windows 10 machines, while 63 percent of confirmed malware was on Windows 7.

The report also offers a look at the status of Windows 10 deployments among businesses. Webroot says Windows 10 migration has been "quite slow", with only 32 percent of corporate devices running Windows 10 at the end of 2017, up from 20 percent a year earlier.

However, Windows 10 adoption among consumers was unsurprisingly much higher, growing from 65 percent of Webroot's installed base in January to 72 percent in December. Windows 7 meanwhile fell two percentage points over the year to 15 percent.

Windows 10 was also much more secure compared with Windows 7 among home users. The rate of malware for Windows 10 was 0.07 compared with 0.16 for Windows 7.

See also: IT physical security policy

The figures from Webroot add some context to Microsoft's claim last week that over 50 percent of Windows 10 enterprise machines are running Microsoft's own Windows Defender antivirus. That compares with 18 percent of Windows 7 and Windows 8 devices running Windows Defender.

Uptake of Windows 10 in the enterprise is expected to rise in the coming years as Windows 7 support approaches its end on January 14, 2020.

Earlier this year, Windows 10 became the most-widely used version of Windows in the world, according to web analytics firm StatCounter.

Webroot's report also noted a huge rise in cryptojacking, where attackers plant a web-based cryptocurrency miner on websites to use visitors' CPU without permission.

Over 5,000 websites have been compromised with a CoinHive miner since September, according to Webroot.

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