firefox opera glasses.pngWeb browsers are probably among the most updated applications because of how important they are in our daily lives, and also because of how vulnerable they can make us to outside attacks. For example, Firefox 2 has had about 15 different versions since its release in October 2006, and all but three addressed security issues. I calculated out the average duration between new releases, and it works out to one every 39 days, or almost one every month.

I’m happy that these browsers are frequently getting updates because that means they are keeping up with any vulnerabilities and bugs that might arise. The bad news is that over 637 million users out there are surfing the net with an outdated browser. To break it down even further here are the percentage of users using the most current version on a per-browser basis:

  • Internet Explorer 7: 52.5% are up-to-date
  • Safari 3: 70.2% are up-to-date
  • Opera 9: 90.1% are up-to-date
  • Firefox 2: 92.2% are up-to-date

Just barely half of all Internet Explorer 7 users are running the latest release, which means many of them could be vulnerable to outside attacks. Firefox and Opera, on the other hand, are almost always updated to the latest release.

Naturally you would think that this is because Firefox and Opera users are more likely to follow when the companies release new versions of their browsers, but is that really the case? Half of the problem is that Internet Explorer gets updated through Windows Update, and so users aren’t notified of patches from within the browser like they are with Opera and Firefox. For that reason you’d be hard pressed to find someone who could tell you exactly what version of Internet Explorer they’re running, but a good chunk of Opera and Firefox users probably know the version number off the top of their heads.

You can read more about how the stats were collected, but overall I would say that all of this information is on-par to what I would expect. This makes me wonder how many people out there have expired antivirus subscriptions as well?

Understand the Web Browser Threat [via CNet]