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Who's riddling Windows PCs with gaping holes? It's your crApps

New study: Microsoft slashes bugs, Java and Adobe bring up the rear

Nearly nine out of ten security vulnerabilities in Windows computers last year were the fault of popular third-party applications, as opposed to Microsoft's own software.

That's according to security biz Secunia, which analysed flaws found in the most-used 50 Windows programs - 29 from Microsoft (including its operating system family) and 21 from third-party developers.

In 2012, 86 per cent of 2,755 vulnerabilities identified by Secunia's study were found in code developed outside of Microsoft; that's up 8 percentage points on 2011's 78 per cent, we're told. In 2007, the figure was just 57 per cent.

Secunia credited Microsoft for its continued focus on shoring up security measures in its products, and reducing its share of the software vulnerabilities on its Windows platform. The Danish biz added that sysadmins must not forget to roll out updates for all installed code rather than just Microsoft's and the few "usual suspects from other vendors".

Last year, according to Secunia, 5.5 per cent of the vulnerabilities found were present in Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 operating systems and 8.5 per cent were in Microsoft's user-land programs. In 2011, the numbers were 78 per cent in non-Microsoft code, 10 per cent in Windows OSes and 12 per cent in Microsoft applications.

The number of vulnerabilities tracked by Secunia continues to increase, almost doubling over the last five years. Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader and Oracle's Java runtime engine are among the third-party applications included in Secunia's study.

“Companies cannot continue to ignore or underestimate non-Microsoft programs as the major source of vulnerabilities that threaten their IT infrastructure and overall IT-security level. The number of vulnerabilities is on the increase, but many organisations continue to turn a blind eye, thereby jeopardising their entire IT infrastructure: It only takes one vulnerability to expose a company,” said Morten R. Stengaard, Secunia’s director of product management.

The total number of vulnerabilities in the top-50 most popular Windows programs was 1,137 in 2012. Most of these were rated by Secunia as either highly critical (78.8 per cent) or extremely critical (5.3 per cent). Despite the hype about zero-day exploits, 84 per cent of vulnerabilities had a patch available on the day they were disclosed, up from 72 per cent in 2011.

More details on all these figures and more than be found in Secunia's Vulnerability Review 2013 report. The biz collected the figures from anonymised data gathered from system scans by the millions of users of Secunia's patch management software, Personal Software Inspector. ®

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