Outdated software exposes millions of PC users to cyber-risks

News by Danielle Correa

Millions of PC users are still failing to update computer applications, such as Flash and Java, leaving them vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

New research from Avast's PC Trends Report Q1 2017 has revealed that 52 percent of the most popular PC applications around the world are out of date.

The report looked at the anonymous software, RAM and HDD data from a base sample of 116 million Windows desktop and laptop users worldwide.

The most out of date programs include:

1.     Java (Runtime 6,7), Oracle Corporation

2.     Flash Player (Active X), Adobe Systems

3.     Foxit Reader, Foxit Software

4.     GOM Media Player, Gretech

5.     Nitro Pro, Nitro Software

6.     WinZip, Corel Corporation

7.     DivX, DivX LLC

8.     Adobe Shockwave Player, Adobe Systems

9.     7-ZIP, Igor Pavlov

10.  Firefox, Mozilla

More than 24 million people are running outdated versions of Java Runtime 6 and 7. This is closely followed by Flash (ActiveX) in which 99 percent of users have yet to update this control for Internet Explorer.

The most up-to-date applications across the sampled user base are Google Chrome (88 percent), Opera (84 percent) and Skype (76 percent).

Windows XP is still installed on six percent of the PCs surveyed despite Microsoft discontinuing support for almost three years now.

The most common memory size by far is 4GB (43.3 percent), followed by 2GB (21.6 percent). Smaller RAM sizes of 2GB or less may cause PCs to run and perform tasks slowly if users do more than basic emailing or running a browser with a few tabs open.

Seventy-seven percent of sampled users own a PC with a dual-core chip inside. Quad-core was only found in 15 percent of surveyed PCs.

“In the online world, your security habits, such a keeping your software updated, play a big role in your level of your protection on the internet. Running outdated programs leaves PC users susceptible to attacks from savvy hackers exploiting easy-to-find or known vulnerabilities. The cause of people using outdated software may be that updates don't install properly or they postpone or forget to update even when prompted. We recommend people get into the habit of doing a regular status check on their PC, use an automatic software updater tool and make sure their AV is always kept up-to-date,” said Ondrej Vlcek, chief technology officer, GM and EVP consumer business at Avast.

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