Vulnerabilities / Threats
2/23/2011
11:02 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

80% Of Browsers Have Known Vulnerabilities

Most problems are caused by insecure plug-ins, such as Java, Adobe Reader, QuickTime, and Flash, finds Qualys.

Clicking Through Opera 11 Browser Beta
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Clicking Through Opera 11 Browser Beta

Roughly 80% of browsers today are insecure, owing to their having a known vulnerability either in the browser itself, or due to a vulnerable plug-in, such as an outdated version of Shockwave, Flash, the Java runtime environment, or QuickTime.

That finding comes from research conducted by vulnerability management and security policy compliance vendor Qualys. The results are based on the 200,000 people who, over the past 6 months, used the company's free BrowserCheck tool, which looks for known vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera browsers, running on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux machines. About 10% of people who used the tool appeared to be doing so from a corporate network.

Interestingly, more than half of browser vulnerabilities stem from plug-ins. "The number was very high for the plug-ins, higher than I had expected," said Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys, in an email interview.

The most common insecure browser plug-ins in use are (in order): Java, Adobe Reader, QuickTime, Flash, Shockwave, and Windows Media Player. Many of these plug-ins are widespread -- 97% of computers have the Adobe Flash plug-in installed, and 95% have one for Windows Media Player.

Meanwhile, only about 20% of browsers are insecure due to the native browser application (not counting plug-ins). Kandek said that's testament to browser makers' structured approach to updates, which includes alerting users or simply updating browsers automatically when a new version becomes available.

Unfortunately, few plug-ins auto-update. Accordingly, it's up to IT departments to secure them. "Focus attention on the plug-ins of the browsers, determine if plug-ins are actually necessary, [and] look for plug-ins that have an update program," said Kandek.

One piece of good news from the study is that while 80% of consumers today are using insecure browsers, that's down from a high of nearly 90% in June 2010. What accounts for the improvement? "A number of factors play a role for the small decline, but we have seen good acceptance of the new Adobe Reader X, which has reduced the exposure for PDF users in general," said Kandek.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7392
Published: 2014-07-22
Gitlist allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via shell metacharacters in a file name to Source/.

CVE-2014-2385
Published: 2014-07-22
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the web UI in Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux before 9.6.1 allow local users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the (1) newListList:ExcludeFileOnExpression, (2) newListList:ExcludeFilesystems, or (3) newListList:ExcludeMountPaths parameter t...

CVE-2014-3518
Published: 2014-07-22
jmx-remoting.sar in JBoss Remoting, as used in Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (JEAP) 5.2.0, Red Hat JBoss BRMS 5.3.1, Red Hat JBoss Portal Platform 5.2.2, and Red Hat JBoss SOA Platform 5.3.1, does not properly implement the JSR 160 specification, which allows remote attackers to exec...

CVE-2014-3530
Published: 2014-07-22
The org.picketlink.common.util.DocumentUtil.getDocumentBuilderFactory method in PicketLink, as used in Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (JBEAP) 5.2.0 and 6.2.4, expands entity references, which allows remote attackers to read arbitrary code and possibly have other unspecified impact via...

CVE-2014-4326
Published: 2014-07-22
Elasticsearch Logstash 1.0.14 through 1.4.x before 1.4.2 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via a crafted event in (1) zabbix.rb or (2) nagios_nsca.rb in outputs/.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Where do information security startups come from? More important, how can I tell a good one from a flash in the pan? Learn how to separate ITSec wheat from chaff in this episode.