Average client device is six years old and riddled with unpatched software, researchers find
Today’s users are hanging onto their old PCs for an impressively long time, eking life out of machines for an average of six years, a new research report from antivirus maker Avast Software finds. While thrifty, the use of aging endpoints, and more critically the outdated software running on them, is leaving frugal folks vulnerable to cyberattack and data loss.
The Lowdown: The Avast data shows the average age of desktop PCs and laptops is up about one year since 2017, as even aging machines now have enough horsepower to handle everyday tasks. While that’s troubling to partners in the business of refreshing client devices more regularly, the bigger problem uncovered in the research lies in the software. Fifty-five percent of applications — from frameworks to media players to browsers and beyond — are out-of-date and unpatched against known vulnerabilities, many of which are being commonly exploited.
The Details: Topping the list of the most outdated software in the wild is Adobe Shockwave, followed by VLC Media Player, Skype, and Java, where versions 6, 7, and 8 still prevail (the current version is 10).
Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system, meanwhile, continues to hang on to 43 percent share of devices worldwide, three points higher than Windows 10, according to the report. Roughly one in six Windows 7 users and one in ten Windows 10 users is running older or unsupported versions of the OS.
Among the other findings in the Avast research report:
• Two-thirds of users (67%) opt for laptops or tablets over desktops as their device of choice.
• Google Chrome is the world’s most installed app, increasing its share of installs from 79 percent to 91 percent in the past 12 months. Adobe Acrobat Reader is second, followed by WinRAR, Microsoft Office, and Mozilla Firefox.
• Most CPUs are still dual-core, with 74 percent running on two physical cores versus 20 percent with quad-core systems.
• The most popular RAM size is 4GB.
• Just 15 percent of users own a fast solid-state drive; the remainder use either HDD or a combination of HDD and SSD.
The Buzz: “Most of us replace our smartphone regularly, but the same cannot be said for our PCs. With the average age of a PC now reaching six years old, we need to be doing more to ensure our devices are not putting us at unnecessary risk,” said Avast President Ondrej Vlcek. “With the right amount of care, such as cleaning our hardware’s insides using cleaners, optimization, and security products, PCs will be safe and reliable for even longer.”