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Avast PC Trends Report reveals majority of PC users are at risk due to vulnerable software

March 2017 by Avast!

Avast revealed that more than half (52%) of the most popular PC applications, including Flash and Java are out-of-date. The Avast PC Trends Report January 2017, based on insights from the company’s AVG TuneUp product, highlights the top 10 outdated applications, the most used programmes and hardware, and shows the problems people face by not keeping their PC up-to-date. Most critically, people are exposing their PC and their personal data to risks, as malware targets older versions of software to exploit vulnerabilities.

Gathered anonymously from 116 million Windows® desktop and laptop users running AVG TuneUp’s Automatic Software Updater feature, Avast found the most out-of-date programmes include:
- Java (Runtime 6,7), Oracle Corporation
- Flash Player (Active X), Adobe Systems
- Foxit Reader, Foxit Software
- GOM Media Player, Gretech
- Nitro Pro, Nitro Software
- WinZip, Corel Corporation
- DivX, DivX LLC
- Adobe Shockwave Player, Adobe Systems
- 7-ZIP, Igor Pavlov
- Firefox, Mozilla

Topping this list of the least updated applications is Java, the popular framework for web and some desktop applications, with more than 24 million people running the outdated versions Java Runtime 6 and 7. And while another 26 million users are on the latest version Java 8, more than 70% haven’t installed the latest update rollout (currently update 121).

This is closely followed by Flash (ActiveX) where 99% of users have yet to update this control for Internet Explorer; and Foxit Reader which sees 92% of users working with an old version of the application. Conversely, the most up-to-date applications are Google Chrome at 88%; Opera at 84%; and Skype which is 76% up-to-date across the sampled user base, which illustrates that even the programmes that auto-update are not necessarily always up-to-date.

“In the online world, your security habits, such as keeping your software updated, play a big role in your level of your protection on the Internet,” said Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Technology Officer, GM and EVP Consumer Business at Avast. “Running outdated programmes leaves PC users susceptible to attacks from savvy hackers exploiting easy-to-find or known vulnerabilities. The cause of people using outdated software may be that updates don’t install properly or they postpone or forget to update even when prompted. We recommend people get into the habit of doing a regular status check on their PC, use an automatic software updater tool like the one we provide in AVG TuneUp and make sure their AV is always kept up-to-date.”

Key findings from the Report:

- Windows XP is not dead: Windows XP is still installed on 6% of the PCs surveyed. Around 6.5 million users from Avast’s sample base still use XP despite Microsoft discontinuing support almost three years ago. Windows 7 is by far the most common OS with 48% of users running it, followed by Windows 10 which is used by 30%

- Low memory size slows people down: 4GB was the most common by far, followed by 2GB. Smaller RAM sizes of 2GB or less may cause PCs to run and perform tasks slowly if users do more than basic emailing or running a browser with just a few tabs open. However, around 15 million Avast users are running 8GB memory suggesting bigger RAM is trending upward.

- Quad-core CPU is rare: the most common processor configuration is dual-core with 77% of sampled users owning a PC with one of these chips inside. Quad-core, a more recent innovation, was only found in 15% of surveyed PCs.

- Solid State drives not the norm - yet: we found Hard Disk Drives (HDD) still dominate. Only 10 million of the 91 million disks sampled had the newer Solid State Drives (SSD). The average HDD was 500GB, while the more common SSD size was only 256GB, which is likely due to the fact that larger SSDs are still sold at a much higher price point.

- Users can easily update the software on their PCs and keep themselves safe by using the new 2017 version of AVG TuneUp which now includes Automatic Software Updater. This new feature uses patented technologies to update the most used applications, like Skype, Adobe reader, Flash and Chrome, automatically and silently in the background. Customers can choose to rely on the automatic updates the feature provides, or tailor manual checks as desired.

Methodology

The report looks at the anonymous software, RAM and HDD data from 116 million desktop and laptop users worldwide running Windows®. Only hard disk drives using the modern SATA standard were evaluated; older interfaces, USB drives and zeroed out disks that reported wrong disk capacity (too low or too high) were excluded, which accounts for only 91 million out of our total user base of 116 million sampled. The sample was taken in January 2017.




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