Six months with Windows 8 (white paper)

ESET security researchers release white paper looking at the first six months of Windows 8. Just how secure is Microsoft's new operating system?

ESET security researchers release white paper looking at the first six months of Windows 8. Just how secure is Microsoft’s new operating system?

When Windows 8 first came out, ESET was the first to publish a white paper looking at its security features. In the intervening half-year, we have continued our research, observing how well Windows 8 is doing from a security perspective, as well how it is being adopted by our customers. As a result of continuing research, we have released a new paper, detailing our observations in the first six months.

Here are some of the key findings from the first six months with Windows 8:

  • About 3.3% of ESET’s 100M+ customers have adopted Windows 8 (which is a slightly higher adoption rate than most organizations tracking Windows 8 – such as NetApps – have reported, but lower than that of at least one reporter, Valve, which collects data from gamers’ PCs)
  • The replacement of the Start Menu with the Start Screen has generated a whole new ecosystem of Start Menu substitutes.  ESET does not treat these programs as malware or PUAs simply because of this functionality, which offer a more traditional interface that many people seem to appreciate. It is important to keep in mind such programs could contain malware, be bundled with potentially unwanted software, or engage in other behavior that causes them to be classified as a threat, unsafe, unwanted or even a suspicious application.
  • No malware was identified in the Windows Store, which now has about 60,000 apps. There have been problems with fake apps in the Windows Store, though, as well as ebook piracy. The current nature of the Windows Store may be hampering Windows 8’s acceptance in BYOD scenarios because of manageability or legal concerns by corporate customers.
  • Windows 8’s Secure UEFI Boot process appears to be intact, with no signs that malware has bypassed it so far.
  • Windows RT comes with a somewhat-hidden copy of Windows Defender app bundled in it. Like its counterpart in Windows 8, Windows Defender provides a base level of security for the operating system. Unlike its counterpart in Windows 8, the Windows RT version it cannot be replaced by another solution.

For more information, you can download the white paper directly at Six Months with Windows 8 [PDF, 787KB] or to see all of ESET’s white papers, click on the Papers tab, above.

Aryeh Goretsky, MVP, ZCSE
Distinguished Researcher

Are you using Windows 8 yet? What’s been your experience so far, security-wise? Has Windows 8 been more secure or less secure for you than your previous version of Windows? If you are not yet running Windows 8, do you plan on upgrading for its increased security?

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