Many browsers runs insecure plug-ins, analysis finds

Browsercheck tool dishes dirt on Java, Flash and Quicktime

Large numbers of web browsers run out of date plug-ins that render them vulnerable to security exploits, a new analysis by security management company Qualys has found.

Analysing 420,000 scans from the company's Browsercheck tool, Qualys discovered that the biggest problems lie with a handful of common plug-ins for video such as Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime, Shockwave and Windows Media Player, plus more general utilities such as PDF Reader, and old favourite, Java.

The most vulnerable pug-in was Java, installed on 80 per cent of browsers, 40 per cent of which were running an out-of-date version of the software open to exploits. Adobe Reader took second spot, also installed on 80 per cent of browsers, just over 30 per cent of which were vulnerable.

A commonly-cited worry, Flash video, was vulnerable on a more modest 20 per cent of browsers despite being present in more than 95 per cent of them. Other video players such as Shockwave and Quicktime showed vulnerability levels of between 20-25 per cent but were installed on only around 40 per cent of browsers.

Overall, around 80 per cent of browser-related security flaws now lie with plug-ins and only 20 per cent with browsers, regardless of which browser was looked at.

The sheer number of common plug-ins, and the difficulty many users found in keeping them patched in a timely way, was what lay at the heart of the less-than-impressive numbers, said Qualys CTO, Wolfgang Kandek.

"The problem is that they all have their own individual updating mechanisms. It makes the problem much bigger than it needs to be," he said.

According to Kandek, the answer was to adopt the approach of Google Chrome and build some plug-in updates into the browser's own updating system. This made it more likely that the browsers would be patched, he said.

Longer term, the model adopted by emerging mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS was superior because it used a more integrated patching model.

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 securitybrowsersApplesoftwareapplicationsqualysPersonal Tech

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

John E Dunn

Techworld
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

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?