Virtually every Windows PC at risk, says Secunia

Almost all PCs scanned by patch tool have an unpatched app; 46% have 11-plus.

More than 98% of Windows computers harbor at least one unpatched application, and nearly half contain 11 or more programs at risk from attack, a Danish security company said Wednesday.

According to Secunia, 98.1% of the PCs on which its Personal Software Inspector (PSI) utility was installed during the last week sport one or more applications that have security updates available for downloading.

PSI scans Windows systems for installed applications, then compares their version numbers to the most up-to-date; if they're different, it makes note, then provides a link to the patch update. To gather its numbers, Secunia tracked the results of each user's first PSI scan.

Since Nov. 25, when PSI left beta and entered Version 1.0, more than 120,000 people downloaded the utility, said Thomas Kristensen, Secunia's chief technology officer. The company randomly selected 20,000 of those installations, then tallied the number of unpatched applications PSI found.

"Most people keep Windows up to date," said Kristensen, "because it's so easy to use Windows Update. Adobe Reader and Flash and Apple QuickTime are like that, too, as are browsers. But a lot of third-party [browser] plug-ins don't have any [update mechanism] and so people don't keep them updated."

The PSI data showed that while fewer than 1.9% of the users had a completely clean PC, 30.3% of the machines contained between one and five unpatched programs, 25.1% had between six and 10 at-risk applications, and 45.8% of the systems boasted 11 or more insecure programs.

Wednesday's numbers were even more dismal than those Secunia collected last January, when it surveyed a similar number of PCs that had just installed PSI. Then, approximately 4.5% of the machines were free of unpatched programs, more than twice as many as in the newest survey.

Kristensen explained the decline. "We've had a change in the user base, and managed to reach a much broader group of users," he said. PSI's early adopters were mostly tech-savvy types, Kristensen argued, but as word has spread about the utility, "it's reached a completely different group of users, many who never patch their PCs," he added.

Since Secunia brought the free utility out of beta test, the Copenhagen-based company claims about 900,000 users have downloaded the program. "We should clear one million around the first of the year," Kristensen said.

PSI runs on Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Server 2003 and can be downloaded from the Secunia site.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Windowswindows xpWindows Vista

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?