Microsoft has released its semi-annual summary of security problems, solutions, insights, and recommendations known as the Security Intelligence Report
, which is a distillation of the experiences from Microsoft's Malware Protection Center, Security Response Center, and Security Engineering Center. The report covers January through June of 2010, and it holds all sorts of surprises.
In the first quarter of 2010, out of 600 million different PCs scanned worldwide, Microsoft found infections on more than 11 million PCs in the United States. (The statistics-takers determine the country of origin by the settings in Windows Control Panel's Location applet.) By the second quarter, that number fell 12.8 percent to 9.6 million.
The United States had the highest number of infections of any country. Second was Brazil, third was China. That might be a surprising result, until you discover that Microsoft reported the United States, Brazil, and China as offending countries 1, 2, and 3 in the Security Intelligence Report for the last half of 2009 as well. There seems to me to be a bit of bias floating around.
Microsoft's infection statistics come from scans conducted by Microsoft Security Essentials
, the closely related Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool
, Microsoft Forefront Client Security, and a handful of lesser/obsolete products (Windows Defender and Live OneCare, to name two). Microsoft Security Essentials and MSRT are great tools, but they aren't infallible or universal. There's an inherent bias: PCs less likely to run Microsoft Security Essentials and/or MSRT (I won't mention Windows XP SP2 by name) will be under-represented in the results. That's a considerable bias because two-thirds of all Windows PCs still run Windows XP.