Windows XP remains the main target of rootkit infections, according to a study by anti-virus company Avast.
Over a six-month period, Avast tracked down 630,000 rootkit infections – and found 74% of these were on computers running Windows XP.
While XP is still the world’s most common operating system for PC’s, still used on as many as 49% globally, Avast have suggested it is more prone to infections due to piracy.
In other words, the large number of pirated versions of Windows XP are unable to update directly from Microsoft, and therefore remain vulnerable while registered users are unaffected.
This makes it easier for computers running pirate copies to be successfully infected with rootkit malware, even with anti-virus protection.
“One issue with Windows XP is the high number of pirated versions, especially as users are often unable to properly update them because the software can’t be validated by the Microsoft update,” said Przemyslaw Gmerek, the AVAST expert on rootkits and lead researcher.
“Because of the way they attack – and stay concealed – deep in the operation system, rootkits are a perfect weapon for stealing private data.”
While Windows 7 is regarded as more secure, Avast warn that the majority of malware will try and target the Master Boot Record (MBR) regardless of OS used.