Feeds

Safari, Opera browsers patch-shy, says study

Chrome, Firefox users plug more often

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.