US Windows users remain badly exposed to dozens of basic software vulnerabilities, according to third quarter 2014 figures from Danish security firm Secunia. Java was by far the worst offender with 42 percent of systems unpatched against one or more flaws.
In total, Java 7 suffered a humungous 145 vulnerabilities in the third quarter of 2014, which Secunia found to be running on two thirds of the US-based consumer systems it assessed. From this, 42 percent were in an unpatched state and therefore taking a big risk given the popularity of Java exploits among cyber-criminals.
In second place was Apple QuickTime 7, running on 59 percent of systems with 33 percent unpatched, while Adobe Reader was running on 42 percent of system of which 30 percent were unpatched.
Moving down the list, a notable offender was Internet Explorer 11, which was on 73 percent of systems and suffered 218 flaws. Luckily only 11 percent weren't patched, although this is still a sizable number considering the size of its installed base.
The number of systems running unpatched operating systems stood at 12.6 percent, a slight increase on the previous quarter. End-of-life programs were found on 5.7 percent of systems.
"It only takes one vulnerability for a hacker to exploit a user's system. Just one. We are concerned to see such a high share of users with unpatched and end-of-Life browsers and operating systems," said Secunia director of research, Kasper Lindgaard.
"We hope that as part of National Cyber Security Awareness month, users will take a moment to make sure their systems are up to date with the most recent program versions and patches."
The software complexity of Windows PCs is the core problem added to which Windows has no central patching system, leaving users to fend for themselves or, more likely, just pretend the problem doesn't exist. To that end, Secunia came up with its Personal Software Inspector (PSI) to perform that central function.
The average US PC on which Secunia's PSI runs had 76 installed programs from 27 different vendors (including browser plug-ins), a formidable patching task at the best of times.
The National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is apparently in its 11th year but are enough American Windows users listening?
Secunia also publishes reports for countries such as the UK but the latest has yet to make it to the firm's website.