Wednesday, February 23, 2011

80% Of Browsers Have Known Vulnerabilities

Via -

Roughly 80% of browsers today are insecure, owing to their having a known vulnerability either in the browser itself, or due to a vulnerable plug-in, such as an outdated version of Shockwave, Flash, the Java runtime environment, or QuickTime.

That finding comes from research conducted by vulnerability management and security policy compliance vendor Qualys. The results are based on the 200,000 people who, over the past 6 months, used the company's free BrowserCheck tool, which looks for known vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera browsers, running on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux machines. About 10% of people who used the tool appeared to be doing so from a corporate network.

Interestingly, more than half of browser vulnerabilities stem from plug-ins. "The number was very high for the plug-ins, higher than I had expected," said Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys, in an email interview.

The most common insecure browser plug-ins in use are (in order): Java, Adobe Reader, QuickTime, Flash, Shockwave, and Windows Media Player. Many of these plug-ins are widespread -- 97% of computers have the Adobe Flash plug-in installed, and 95% have one for Windows Media Player.

Meanwhile, only about 20% of browsers are insecure due to the native browser application (not counting plug-ins). Kandek said that's testament to browser makers' structured approach to updates, which includes alerting users or simply updating browsers automatically when a new version becomes available.

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