St. Petersburg, Russia — May 15, 2012. The dismal Proactive Security Challenge results turned in by the big AV (Anti-Virus) players in the most recent Matousec.com 64-bit Windows 7 tests are making us wonder whether security companies are really catering to the needs of 64-bit PC/OS users. Are traditional AV vendors even capable of delivering reliable and robust protection to these users?
I. 64-bit OS security landscape
With the increase of processing power and rapidly dropping memory prices, 64-bit systems are firmly in the mainstream (check the latest Steam statistics for gamer-oriented PCs — click OS Version to see the statistics breakdown — x64 systems are used on more than 60% of the modern PCs). Pretty much any computer manufactured in the last three years is capable of running 64-bit Windows, and all high-end systems are 64-bit; the majority of computers today are equipped with hardware that’s best suited and performs best under 64-bit. "Native" 64-bit software makes a full use of the processing power and memory management capabilities in today’s hardware, enabling additional features.
Security-wise, 64-bit systems benefit from the improved native protection implemented in Windows Vista and Windows 7; this improved protection comes from such security mechanisms as mandatory driver signing, kernel patch protection and hardware-based DEP (Data Execution Prevention). These tools are designed to minimize the incidence of rootkits and other powerful and sophisticated malware. Thanks to these and other tools, 64-bit systems are, at least on the surface, much more solid and secure than their 32-bit cousins.