GENTLEMEN ADJUST YOUR PC threat league tables. Apple has usurped Oracle as the top blight, according to security firm Secunia.
The picture is bleak across the board, and the firm found that a huge whack of PCs are are running old, beleaguered, unpatched and end-of-life versions of software. This presents a problem to the user and computers in general.
"Private PCs are rife with unpatched vulnerable applications from vendors like Apple, Adobe and Oracle," said the latest Secunia Country Report. "The 76 applications on the average US PC come from 27 different vendors. That's how many update mechanisms you need to stay on top of."
You probably won't need to steady yourself when you hear that Oracle's Java is usually the leader of the pack when it comes to problems. But Apple has swooped in and begun dominating this list during the past three months. There were 18 vulnerabilities in Apple QuickTime 7 at the time of the study, for example.
"Our report shows that one in 20 applications on private US PCs are end-of-life, 12 percent of Windows operating systems are unpatched and, for the first time in four consecutive quarters, Java isn't topping the list of most exposed programs. Apple has taken the lead," said the report.
It is hard to tell where the blame lies here, but it looks like people and the persistent postponement of patches. Secunia reckons that 5.5 percent of PC applications on computers have ceased to exist in the eyes of their developers.
One example of a regular blight is Adobe Flash Player. Version 18 was mercy killed on 22 September but still exists on four-fifths of machines. This is a bleak proposition.
Being laid-back and laissez-faire is cool and all that, but Secunia said that the head in the sand approach exposes more than your behind to attacks.
"Hackers benefit from users' failure to uninstall end-of-life applications, as the exploits they wrote for the old versions continue to work and continue to have value on the black market," said Kasper Lindgaard, director of Secunia research at Flexera Software.
"Too many users install and forget. Maintenance of software is not high on the radar of the average computer user, who tends to install whatever application they need to support whatever they need to do. They then tend to leave it sitting in their system, forgetting to uninstall or update it." µ
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