Nearly 7% of ANZ PCs face XP-related security exposure: Trend Micro

Companies in Australia and New Zealand are well ahead of world pace in moving away from Windows XP – which is widely expected to become a security nightmare once Microsoft discontinues updates for the platform next Monday – but hundreds of thousands of regional PCs are still running the operating system, according to new statistics from Trend Micro.

The company's analysis, which is based on data from its cloud-based Smart Protection Network, found that 32 percent of all PCs in the world are still running the operating system.

By contrast, some 6.5 percent of the PCs in Australia and New Zealand are still running the operating system – which, the company warned in a printable infographic designed to raise awareness about an “unprecedented risk” that threatens others by allowing XP systems to join botnets and attack other systems online.

The expected threat to Windows XP reflects the persistent requirement for conventional antivirus protection despite the industry's push towards more advanced methods of securing business environments, Trend Micro's ANZ managing director Sanjay Mehta told CSO Australia.

“The fundamental blocking and tackling technologies are still very appropriate,” he said. “People say antivirus is dead, but I say to them 'pull it down for a week and give me a call'. It has become less effective but you still need it.”

That said, Mehta added, today's expanded threat profile meant businesses need to make sure they're also staying ahead of targeted attacks that “are on the rise”.

“The tricks there have fundamentally changed,” he added, “but most security solutions are designed to detect things they understand. I don't meet many in top-line roles that don't understand that targeted attacks are a major problem.”

That could pose real problems for Windows XP users, who are widely expected to be targeted with a “potentially cataclysmic” hail of attacks once the 8 April deadline passes. Some anticipate unprotected PCs in China, where half of all computers still run Windows XP, could become a massive botnet army. High penetrations of Windows XP in vertical industries like retail pose particularly high risks, as does the fact that 95 percent of ATMs still run Windows XP.

Microsoft offers more information about the XP end-of-life deadline here.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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