Deborah Salmi

6 December 2013

Ignoring update warnings makes you a sitting duck for malware

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We all see the reminders to update Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Java frequently. There is good reason not to put this task off: The trusted researchers at AV-TEST Institute found that 66 percent of affected Windows systems are victims of malware that took advantage of exploits found in Reader, Flash, and Java.

During the 10-year study, they found that Adobe Reader has nearly 37,000 recorded variants that exploit user machines with “high levels of precision.” Java gets the top spot for exploit attacks with a whopping 82,000 attack variations available against the multiple versions of software on 3 billion devices worldwide.

The top 10 list of the most frequently infected file types from AV-TEST. The top 10 list of the most frequently infected file types from AV-TEST.

 

Can I just stop using Java or Flash?

Not really. Surfing the web without Java and/or JavaScript is virtually impossible given that practically every website uses it in some way to display images, videos, and interactive content. Currently, there are no direct alternatives to Java or Flash for browsers. There are several alternatives to Adobe Reader which display PDFs on your system. You can see what AV-TEST recommends in their report.

Does avast! Antivirus provide protection?

Yes, provided that users also do their part. “Users who have not installed a good, secure protection software won’t even notice the exploit as it makes its way onto their system," warns the researchers. “The only way to protect your system against Java-based attacks is to use a good security suite.”

All versions of avast! Antivirus identify and block the JavaScript that attempts to spy on the system in its search for vulnerable software. avast! Software Updater shows you an overview of all your outdated software applications, so you can keep them up-to-date and eliminate any security vulnerabilities.

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AV test, General, adobe, Reader, flash, Java