Feeds

Safari, Opera browsers patch-shy, says study

Chrome, Firefox users plug more often

Security for virtualized datacentres

Users of Safari and Opera are much more likely to run insecure versions of those browsers because it's harder to keep up with updates, a new study has concluded.

The report, prepared by researchers at Google Switzerland and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, analyzed data pulled from anonymized Google logs. It showed that only 24 percent of Opera users were browsing with the latest version three weeks after a new release. Apple's Safari fared slightly better, with 53 percent of users on a 3.x version of Safari having applied a new update within 21 days.

"All in all, the poor update effectiveness of Apple Safari and Opera gives attackers plenty of time to use known exploits to attack users of outdated browsers," the report's authors, Thomas Duebendorfer and Stefan Frei, wrote.

By contrast, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox did much better, with 97 percent and 85 percent of users running the most current browser respectively. Microsoft's Internet Explorer was excluded from the comparison because its user-agent string doesn't reveal incremental versions numbers.

The authors concluded that the differences were largely the result of the way the browsers go about offering updates. Both Chrome and Firefox offer autoupdates that go largely unnoticed by users. In the case of Chrome, the browser automatically checks for new versions every five hours. When one is detected, it is downloaded and installed the next time the user restarts the browser. Firefox checks for updates each time the browser is started, and when one is found, the user is asked to reboot the program.

Apple and Opera don't make things as easy, the authors say. Those running a 3.2 version of Safari on a Mac must apply a Tiger or Leopard operating system update first before getting browser updates, which slows the overall patch process. Opera checks for updates only once a week, and users have to go through a fresh installation each time one is found.

The report is available here. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.