Microsoft is doing some chest-thumping over the advantages of it’s 64-bit operating systems. According to Joe Faulhaber, who works at the Microsoft Malware Protection Center , the 64-bit versions of Windows and Vista are less likely than their 32-bit counterparts to be infected with malware.
According to Faulhaber, who relied on information gathered by Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRC), during the first half of 2009 64-bit XP was 48 percent less likely to be infected, while 64-bit Vista was 35% less likely to be infected. No information was available for Windows 7 for the obvious reason it hadn’t yet been released, but it is expected the same would hold true for it. Faulhaber suggests the reason 64-bit versions are more secure is that malware, written mostly for the 32-bit world, is confused by 64-bit.
Not so fast, chicken Marengo! Alfred Hunger, vice president of engineering at the security firm Immunet, and formerly of Symantec, says there’s plenty of 64-bit malware out there. In fact, its a pretty easy thing for malware creates to whip up 64-bit versions if and when they desire. The low levels of 64-bit infection, he says, is more due to the low levels of 64-bit penetration in the market. If there aren’t all that many people using it there’s no incentive for malware makers to pay attention.
Microsoft’s own bi-annual Security Intelligence Report offers up another possibility: 64-bit users are smarter than 32-bit users. Being technologically more savvy they are less likely to bring malware onto their machines. The report concludes that as 64-bit spreads from the provenance of techno-geeks the current difference in infection rates between 32-bit and 64-bit will evaporate.
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