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Microsoft Secure

 Skaters are speeding around Sochi ice rinks this week at the 2014 Winter Games, capturing the world’s attention with their grace and athletic prowess. Our blog series also skates along to another medal round, as we honor Japan with our second-place silver medal for its exemplary approach to managing malware threats.

As we noted in our introduction post, Microsoft tracks global malware infection rates each quarter in our Microsoft Security Intelligence Report. Japan’s consistently low malware infection rates helped it earn this prestigious recognition.

In the second quarter of 2013 (2Q13), 1.1 of every 1,000 computers in Japan were cleaned, compared to the worldwide average of 5.8. This was 45 percent lower than our Bronze medal winner during the period. Additionally, only 7 percent of computers in Japan encountered malware, compared with the worldwide average of 17 percent.

Of the threats Japan encountered, Miscellaneous Trojans were the most common, totaling 4.6 percent of encounters — up from 3.8 percent in 1Q13. Exploits and worms were also commonly encountered, but rates for these categories have both declined. More details about Japan’s performance in 2Q13 can be found here.

Over the years, the country’s government agencies have collaborated with global corporations to educate computer users about removing infections and improving the detection rates. Experts in Japan believe this longstanding partnership and overall awareness has increased information security knowhow across the nation, contributing to lower malware infection rates.

As Japan continues to improve its malware infection landscape, other countries can benefit from their best practices. I asked Masakazu Takahashi, Microsoft’s Chief Security Advisor for Japan to share his perspective on some of the reasons the region has enjoyed a low malware infection rate. His perspective is shared below:

“When the public-private cooperation started in Japan, a limited number of people believed that the approach would actually lead to improvements in reducing malware infections. But steady and continuous efforts are proving beneficial and have contributed to today’s success.

“As we know though, the threat situation changes continuously and some recent reports indicate that Japan is facing serious online attacks. We continue to work with the Japanese government and the private sector to introduce further actions to help deal with these threats.  

“We’re aiming for an even safer IT environment in 2014.”

Japan has done an excellent job at sustaining a low malware infection rate over the years — with only one country doing a better job in protecting against malware threats and software vulnerabilities in the 2Q13. Check in next week as we circle back to honor the world’s cleanest country with our gold medal.

Tim Rains
Trustworthy Computing