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Intel Claims Buying a New PC Prevents Virus Incidents

First published: 31st July 2009

A study performed by and widely publicised by Intel has found that PCs older than 3 years have greater maintenance and support costs, including a higher number of virus incidents. Not surprisingly, Intel is using the report to promote PC sales, in a blog posting, Intel spokesperson Scott Smith says, "A new PC can have other benefits – reduced downtime from viruses".

This has important implications, it claims there is a casual link between buying a new PC and reducing virus incidents. If the claim is true, it could revolutionise the Anti-Virus industry. Perhaps we can buy a new PC every week and stop paying for anti-virus software. Or perhaps we can study what it is about buying a new PC that reduces virus incidents, and get the same effect in a different way.

Examining the study report, the picture becomes clearer. The study looked at two categories of businesses, small (<100 employees) and medium (>=100 employees). The figure used for demonstrating the higher number of virus incidents is described in the report as, "Email borne virus attacks", but there are other malware categories, these are the figures for the number of security incidents:

IncidentSmall BuisnessesMedium Businesses
PCs>3yrs oldPCs<3yrs oldPCs>3yrs oldPCs<3yrs old
Email borne virus attacks3.
Denial of service/phishing attacks1.
Viruses resulting from visiting websites1.
Adware and spyware infections1.
Theft of data by others1.
Theft of data by employees1.
PC downtime resulting from network intrusions (hacking)
Theft of PCs (eg: at airports)

So, the number of security incidents is still higher for the older PCs, but the difference is less dramatic than the 28-58% change for email borne virus attacks. What might the causes of the difference in malware incidents? Here are some guesses, with speculation by our Chief Consultant, Allan Dyer:

Further study is required before we can safely move to a "PC a week" regime.

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