The latest version of Windows, Mac OS X and Linux may be the most popular operating systems, but it’s also the most difficult to clean, according to researchers from cybersecurity firm FireEye.
The company analyzed 1.2 million antivirus installations made in the three major operating systems from May 2017 to June 2017, and found that there were just over 2.3 million infections caused by viruses or malware in the process of being detected.
FireEye researchers said this was because antivirus programs detect when a file has been modified or hidden, and they have a harder time cleaning up corrupted data.
“We have found that malware, while not immune to these types of attacks, has a higher rate of infection in the cleaning phase, even after cleaning and re-infection of malicious data,” FireEye researcher Andrew Klimas said in a blog post.
“It is also harder to detect a malware infection after it has already been detected and fixed by antivirus.
We believe that the malware infection rate is at least 20 times higher in the cleanup phase, so it is important that users clean and reinstall their software as soon as possible after the initial infection.”
The researchers said that they also found that antivirus users tend to overuse antivirus solutions, and that people tend to “favor the default settings for the antivirus solution” as opposed to the “advanced settings”.
“These settings make it harder for users to choose the right antivirus or security solutions for their needs, and to be able to choose which ones to trust,” Fireeye said.
“Even if the users do use the advanced settings, these settings are often very poorly designed and can make the system more vulnerable to other malicious programs.”
FireEye also said that users often forget to disable or disable antivirus when they upgrade from a previous version of the operating system.
“When they install a new version of their antivirus, users may forget to remove the old antivirus protection settings, and thus disable the antiviruses they are using,” Firefield said.
Firefox users are one of the most frequently infected with viruses and malware, accounting for nearly one-third of all Windows infections in 2017.
Fireeye said that Windows 10 was the most common operating system for malicious attacks, with over 10% of all malicious attacks against the operating systems.
It was followed by Mac OSX, Linux and Android.
Firefire and FireEye also found a strong correlation between antivirus and malware infections.
FireFire researchers said it is unlikely that users are aware of the severity of the problems they’re experiencing, and have no idea what they’re doing to prevent infections.
“Users may not know the difference between viruses and malicious code and may be using the default antivirus settings, which can be problematic if they are not familiar with how the antiviral software works,” Firefire researcher Alex Kudra said.
“In this case, users will need to clean their systems regularly to prevent infection.”
Users should review their antivirals frequently, especially when upgrading from older versions of the software, Firefire researchers said.