In the most recent installment of its twice-yearly security intelligence report, Microsoft said that PCs running Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) were more than three times as likely to be infected with malware as computers running Windows Vista SP1. Machines powered by the newest XP security update, SP3, meanwhile, were more than twice as likely to be infected.
Vulnerabilities in ActiveX, the Microsoft technology used to create add-ins for Internet Explorer (IE), accounted for eight of the top 10 browser-based attacks against Vista in the first half of 2008. A ninth vulnerability could be exploited via ActiveX, among other means.
Two of the eight vulnerability ActiveX controls were part of RealNetworks Inc.'s RealPlayer media player plug-in; another was part of Apple Inc.'s QuickTime player. Both vendors have had to repeatedly patch their programs this year. Apple alone has patched a total of 30 QuickTime vulnerabilities in five updates in 2008.