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

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?