Outdated IE could make hundreds of millions of Windows devices vulnerable

Windows XP laptop

It's another day, and we've seen another worrying piece of security research, this time showing an alarming number of Windows devices which are laid bare to hundreds of vulnerabilities, thanks to their usage of an old version of Internet Explorer.

As you're probably aware, back in January Microsoft ended support and updates for versions of its web browser previous to Internet Explorer 11, but that hasn't stopped a huge number of folks continuing to use the software according to research from Duo Security.

The security firm crunched the numbers on data pertaining to over two million pieces of hardware used by businesses worldwide, and found that 25% of all Windows devices were running an unsupported version of IE – leaving said users exposed to 700 known vulnerabilities, not to mention the unknown ones.

This is particularly worrying given that these are business devices possibly containing, or giving access to, critical company data.

Flash flaws

Duo also revealed some concerning statistics on those using outdated versions of both Flash and Java. 60% of Flash users were running an old version, and in the case of Java, the situation was even worse at 72%, again putting these businesses at risk from exploits.

The report encompassed a host of different sized businesses from SMBs to large enterprises, and on a more positive note, Duo found that some 500,000 users performed around two million authentications daily which used two-factor authentication (i.e. a second factor such as a code sent to the user's mobile phone, in addition to a standard password).

The research found that generally speaking, Mac users were more up-to-date in terms of their OS compared to those running Windows.

The amount of folks still using old versions of IE probably shouldn't come as a surprise, given the usage level Windows XP remains at. Last month saw the two-year anniversary of Microsoft discontinuing support for the operating system, and it still remained the third most popular OS according to one analytics firm.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).