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KUALA LUMPUR: Malware (malicious software) continues to be the No 1 threat to personal computers, according to Security Intelligence Report version 8 (SIRv8), released by Microsoft Corp. 

It showed that software worms accounted for 27.8% of all infected computer systems, followed by trojan software (16.6%), with miscellaneous other potentially dangerous software (including browser modifiers and remote-control programs) at 13.8%.

Jacqueline Peterson-Jarvis, Microsoft Asia-Pacific's regional security and privacy lead, said SIRv8 revealed that four out of every 1,000 computers scanned in Malaysia were infected by malware during the second half of last year.

"Although, this figure is significantly lower than the worldwide average of seven out of every 1,000 PCs, it is still cause for concern," she said.

Peterson-Jarvis said the infamous Win32/Conficker worm was the top threat in Malaysia between July and December last year.

"It infects other computers across a network (and) by spreading via removable drives, exploiting weak passwords or vulnerability in the Windows Server operating system," she said.

The report also showed that enterprise networks continue to be susceptible to worms while the computers of home users are more exposed to malware and social-engineering threats.

"419 scams (such as the Nigerian letter scam via e-mail) continue to increase significantly and rogue security software posing as a legitimate security application to deceive users, are issues for home users," said Peterson-Jarvis.
Application loopholes continue to account for a large majority of all vulnerabilities, compared to operating system and browser vulnerabilities, according to SIRv8.

"This is because third-party applications have not been updated regularly and therefore are exposed to online threats," she said.

She recommended users protect their computer systems by updating all software regularly, running antivirus software from a trusted vendor and keeping it updated, and using a secure web browser.

SIRv8 provides a comprehensive view of global online-threats in 26 countries from July to December 2009. It also contains guidelines on how to develop in-depth defence strategies to combat the online threats.

The data for the report was collected through Microsoft's various security products and services, including Windows' Malicious Software Removal Tool, Forefront Online Protection for Exchange and Forefront Client Security, Microsoft Security Essentials, Windows Live Hotmail and Bing.

SIRv8 can be downloaded at


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