Patching the operating system and applications are two of the most important things people can do to protect their system from hackers, yet a survey covering 163 million PCs has found that many users aren’t doing basic hygiene work.
The survey, from security firm Avast, found that 55 percent of all programs installed weren’t the latest version available, meaning they were out-of-date and contained publicly known vulnerabilities that typically have a higher chance of being attacked.
The most commonly installed and outdated programs was the popular open source VLC Media Player. The app is installed on 32 percent of PCs, and 94 percent of those installs were running an outdated version.
The other app at the top of Avast’s most-outdated list was Microsoft-owned Skype. That’s very likely due to Microsoft’s recent move to end support for Skype 7. Microsoft ended Skype 7 support in November to push users on to Skype version 8.0, but so far it hasn’t stopped people from using the unsupported version.
More apps that were frequently found to be outdated included Java Runtime Environment 6-8, Foxit Reader, Adobe Air, InfranView, Firefox, DivX, WinZip, iTunes, NitroPDF Professional 9, GOM Media Player, and WinRAR Archiver.
With Windows 7’s support deadline coming on January 14, 2020, there’s less than one year of patches left for most PCs running that operating system.
According to Avast, 43 percent of PCs are still running Windows 7, just ahead of the 40 percent running Windows 10, meaning Windows 7 is still the most widely-used version of Windows.
But according to Avast, even among the Windows 10 PCs, nine percent of Windows 10 devices are already out of date. Microsoft’s new Windows 10 Windows-as-a-service model promises support for each version of Windows 10 for just over two years.
The vast majority of Windows 10 machines are on the version 1803, which is still supported and accounts for 80 percent of all Windows 10 PCs. Less then one percent are on the October 2018 Update, which was stalled due to a data loss bug discovered shortly after its general release.
The nine percent running unsupported versions of Windows 10 include PCs from 2015’s Windows 10 version 1507 to version 1703, the Spring Creators Update that Microsoft released in April 2017.
Out-of-date Office programs are another potential weak point for end-users, with 15 percent of PCs in the survey having non-supported Office 2007 installed.