With Thanksgiving falling close to Christmas this year, online shopping will be a great way to avoid the crowds and take advantage of retail incentives, including free shipping and returns, and Cyber Monday deals. In fact, industry analyst firm Forrester reports that online holiday sales are expected to reach an all-time high.
But before you click on the hottest deals or submit your personal information online (shipping address, usernames, passwords and credit card numbers), make sure that your browser is well equipped to safely handle these transactions and safeguard your information.
Through our Qualys BrowserCheck online tool we have collected data from over 1.4 million user computer scans and their respective browsers. From this research, we have found that 39% of the tested machines have critical vulnerabilities.These vulnerabilities allow cybercriminals to take remote control of your machine, search your disk drive for valuable information, monitor all keystrokes and e-commerce transactions, and intercept private information, such as usernames and passwords, credit card numbers and bank account details.
Our data shows that even the most popular browser in our database, Chrome, has close to 40% of its instances afflicted with a critical vulnerability. Similar numbers apply to Firefox and Internet Explorer, which are less than 5% behind in popularity, but both have 35% and 41% of their instances vulnerable to attacks.
Browsers themselves are only partly to blame though; we see most of them quite up-to-date, with Chrome leading the pack with 90%, Firefox at 85% and Internet Explorer trailing with 75%. The larger part of the problems are contributed by the plug-ins that we use to extend the capabilities of our browsers, led by Adobe Shockwave and followed by Oracle Java and Apple Quicktime.
The lesson is clear: Keep your browser and its plug-ins updated to the latest software versions, and you can ensure that you are protected against the attacks that use these vulnerabilities. One easy way to do this is with our free, automated service, BrowserCheck. It works on PCs and Macs, and it takes just a few seconds to scan your system to determine whether your browsers, operating systems and applications need to be updated.
The results include “fix-it” buttons linking to the latest software download to update your system.
The service also includes automated daily scanning. Once selected, BrowserCheck will regularly scan your system transparently, behind the scenes, without interrupting you as you use the internet. If an issue is detected, an alert will pop up, taking you to the results page with the “fix-it” buttons.
This is a simple, easy way to automatically keep your system updated. If you like it, recommend it to your friends and family to help them keep their computers safe this holiday season.