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In the latest edition of its twice-a-year “Security Intelligence Report,” Microsoft said that the amount of malicious or potentially harmful software removed from Windows computers grew by 43 percent during the first half of 2008.
The company said improvements in security for its Windows Vista operating system and security updates to the previous Windows XP system had made such software a less attractive target for attackers. Instead they have shifted their attention to security holes in individual programs.
During the first half of the year, 90 percent of newly reported vulnerabilities involved applications, and only 10 percent affected operating systems, according to the report.
An interesting part of this report is that it shows Apple's OS has the most vulnerabilities and they're also the slowest to patch. Apple software is also a problem for Windows users for the same reasons (iTunes, Quicktime, etc.) According to MS, none of the top 10 vulnerabilities in Vista this year were related to the OS or browser, they were all caused by third-party applications.
Vista's switch in emphasis toward security is evident in these reports. It's now easier for the bad guys to go after the less secure applications than the OS.