Nearly all Windows computers are likely running at least one unpatched application and about four out of every ten contain 11 or more programs that are vulnerable to attack, a vulnerability tracking company has said.
According to Secunia ASP, more than 95% of the PCs that have downloaded and installed its Personal Software Inspector (PSI) utility in the last week sport one or more applications for which security fixes are available.
Secunia tracked the first PSI scan after its installation to get an idea of patch status before users start to update their machines, which can also be done through the utility.
In the last seven days, said Secunia, users have installed PSI on 20,009 machines and a worrying 95% of them have an unpatched application on their hard drive.
"There is a newer version available from the vendor that corrects one or more vulnerabilities," said Jakob Balle, Secunia's development manager, in a post to the company's blog. "But the users have yet to install the secure version."
Some of the other statistics cited by Balle were just as damning: 42% of the machines scanned by PSI in the past week have 11 or more vulnerable applications; and more than two thirds of the PCs have six or more unpatched programs.
"Close to all computers are running with several insecure applications installed," Balle pointed out.
And the picture is probably even darker than the one he painted, he suggested. "These results should be considered 'best case' scenarios, the real numbers are likely to be worse," he said, citing the self-selected group that the data represents. "The users of the Secunia PSI are most likely more vigilant and security minded/conscious than your 'average' user."
Secunia released the free patch detection utility a year ago, but shifted it to Release Candidate 1 stage earlier this month. The Copenhagen-based company claims nearly 191,000 users have downloaded and run the program.
PSI runs on Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Server 2003, and can be downloaded from the Secunia site.
But Microsoft customers are not the only users who have needed to install patches in recent times. Last month, Apple released a patch to cover 41 vulnerabilities in its OS X operating system.