Out-of-date software a big security risk for PC users, says Avast
Digital security products provider Avast released its annual ‘PC Trends Report’ for 2019 on Tuesday, which suggested that 55% of PC applications installed worldwide were out-of-date, making PC users and their personal data vulnerable to security risks.
The FTSE 250 firm said it found that users were making themselves vulnerable to hackers by not installing security patches, and keeping outdated versions of popular applications on their PCs.
It explained that the applications where updates were most frequently neglected included Adobe Shockwave at 96%, VLC Media Player at 94%, and Skype at 94%.
The report, which used anonymised and aggregated data from 163 million devices worldwide, also found that Windows 10 was now installed on 40% of all PCs globally, which meant it was fast approaching the 43% share held by Windows 7.
However, almost one in six, or 15%, of all Windows 7 users and one in 10 , or 9%, of all Windows 10 users worldwide were running older and no longer supported versions of their product.
Avast said running out-of-date operating systems put them at risk from vulnerabilities and other significant security issues.
“Most of us replace our smartphone regularly, but the same cannot be said for our PCs,” said Avast president Ondrej Vlcek.
“With the average age of a PC now reaching six years old, we need to be doing more to ensure our devices are not putting us at unnecessary risk.
“With the right amount of care, such as cleaning our hardware's insides using cleaners, optimisation and security products, PCs will be safe and reliable for even longer.”
Avast also revealed that more people than ever were opting for laptops, tablets, and 2-in-1 PCs running Windows.
Although desktops were described as “in no way” obsolete, 67% of users were choosing laptops and tablets, with Avast saying that portable trend was likely to continue into 2019.
The shift to mobile PCs was also reflected in the most installed applications, with Google Chrome jumping to the top of the list in 2018, increasing its share of installs from 79% to 91% in the last 12 months.
Adobe Acrobat Reader, at 60%, came in as the second most popular, followed by WinRAR at 48%, Microsoft Office at 45%, and Mozilla Firefox at 42%.
Although the fourth most used application worldwide was Microsoft Office, Avast said it was also one of the most out-of-date apps.
Globally, 15% of users still had the Enterprise 2007 version installed, even though Microsoft no longer issued security patches or bugs fixes for that product.
The report also outlined the most popular PC brands, CPUs, RAM size and hard disks, with the top five PC brands globally being listed HP, Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Dell.
Most CPUs were still dual-core, with 74% running on two physical cores and only 20% of users own a quad-core system, while the most popular RAM size was four gigabytes, which Avast said was enough for most day-to-day applications.
Just 15% of users owned a fast SSD, the report revealed, while the rest of users remained on either a traditional HDD or an HDD-SSD combo solution.
Avast said the core data used in the report was collected through its ‘Automatic Software Updater’ feature - a functionality included in Avast and AVG security software - and consisted of anonymised datasets from a total of 163 million devices.
It explained that, using a combination of real-world data and global statistics from Statista and other sources, the report was able to “paint a picture” of the state of the PC in 2018.