Media players more dangerous than Windows

Scott dunn By Scott Dunn

Windows users face the greatest security risks today not from flaws in Windows itself but from unpatched media players.

That’s because many Windows Secrets readers, according to an online test we sponsored, are running versions of Flash, Java, and QuickTime that are unpatched against the latest security threats.

Readers’ systems are rife with outdated add-ons

In two of our recent issues, subscribers to the paid version of the Windows Secrets Newsletter were asked to scan their computers using the Software Inspector, a service of The scan reveals versions of Windows and builds of applications that have security flaws for which a vendor patch is available.

Contributing editor Ryan Russell, whose columns appeared in the July 26 and Aug. 9 issues of the newsletter, described how we affiliated with, a respected security firm that conducts the tests. We’ve found that Secunia’s service provides such important information that we want all of our free subscribers to take the test as well. A link to the test is provided near the end of this article.

The tests of our paid subscribers showed which applications are the most likely to be installed but unpatched on users’ PCs. In the following list, number 1 represents the unpatched application that was found on the greatest number of readers’ machines, with higher numbers representing fewer machines:

1. Adobe Flash Player 9.x
2. Sun Java JRE 1.6.x/6.x
3. Macromedia Flash Player 6.x
4. Macromedia Flash Player 8.x
5. Macromedia Flash Player 7.x
6. Apple QuickTime 7.x
7. Macromedia Flash Player 5.x
8. Mozilla Firefox 2.0.x
9. Macromedia Flash Player 4.x
10. Adobe Reader 7.x

This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.

Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.

= Paid content

All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-08-16: