Not Running Secunia PSI? Why Not?

imageDespite the fact that burglaries are at an all-time high in my neighborhood, and despite the fact that the Police regularly caution residents to lock both windows and doors when not at home, one of my close neighbors always leaves at least one window open while she’s out. I have to say – it just boggles my mind.

Throughout the summer she is out of town every weekend and, you guessed it – she still leaves at least one window wide open. Her behavior, not to put too fine a point on it – is idiotic. If you’ve ever wondered why your home owners insurance policy is more expensive than it needs to be, it’s partially due to lamebrains like my neighbor.

Computer systems running insecure and unpatched applications are analogous to the open window in my neighbor’s house, and are a common gateway used by cyber-criminals to infect unaware users’ machines. Worse, unlike the aftereffects of a home burglary, which are rather self evident, a compromised computer can often remain undetected.

As important as it is, that you secure your computer by implementing a layered security approach, it’s equally as important that you close any “open windows” in your operating system, by keeping your installed applications current and up-to-date. And, Secunia, the leading provider of Vulnerability Intelligence, can help you do just that with its free application – Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI).

Since PSI constantly monitors your system for insecure software installations, notifies you when an insecure application is installed, and even provides you with detailed instructions for updating the application, when available – installing this small free application will assist you in ensuring that your software installations are relatively secure. I say “relatively”, since there is no perfect system.

The following screen captures illustrate, just how easy it is to take that extra step toward a more secure computing experience, using PSI. Click on any graphic to expand to its original size.

During the install process, you will have an opportunity to select “Auto Updates”. I suggest that you take advantage of this feature.

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Again, during the install process, you will have an opportunity to select “full changes in the tray icon”. If you have selected “Auto Updates”, as per the previous window, you should select this option.

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The settings menu provides a full range of adjustments so that you can configure the application to more accurately meet your specific needs.

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The following screen capture illustrates a security scan in progress. The full scan took under two minutes to complete.

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According to the scan results, my test machine is 12% more secure compared to non-users of PSI in my local area. This is no cause for celebration though, since the test machine is running two insecure applications. One of which, VLC Media Player, has been a recent target of cyber criminals. Ouch!

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The following screen capture shows the full test results and you can readily see, that both Adobe Flash Player and the previously mentioned VLC, are both insecure. Adobe Flash Player, dramatically so. Double ouch!

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Additional data on an insecure program can be gathered by double clicking on the program, as shown in the following screen shot.

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Quick facts:

Secunia PSI is free for private use.

Allows you to secure your PC – Patch your applications – Be proactive

Scans for Insecure and End-of-Life applications

Verifies that all Microsoft patches are applied

Tracks your patch-performance week by week

Direct and easy access to security patches.

Detects more than 300,000 unique application versions

Provides a detailed report of missing security related updates

Provides a tabbed report which indicates programs that are no longer supported – programs with all known patches – insecure programs, etc.

Provides a Toolbox offering a set of links which helps you assess a problem and how to resolve it.

Installing this small free application will definitely assist you in identifying possible security leaks; give it a try.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista SP 1 or later, XP SP 3 (32 & 64 bit).

Watch: How to install and use the Secunia PSI 2.0

Download at: Secunia

Bonus: Do it in the Cloud – The Secunia Online Software Inspector, (OSI), is a fast way to scan your PC for the most common programs and vulnerabilities; checking if your PC has a minimum security baseline against known patched vulnerabilities.

Link: Secunia Online Software Inspector. In the last 24 hours, fully 19% of applications checked by this online tool, were insecure.

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15 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Application Vulnerabilities, Cloud Computing Applications, Computer Audit Applications, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Recommended Web Sites, Secunia, Software, System Security, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

15 responses to “Not Running Secunia PSI? Why Not?

  1. Murphy

    Hi,
    After WinPatrol Secunia PSi is another ”must have” .
    Best regards !

  2. Hi there Bill I would like to add a shout out for Belarc Advisor – Free Personal PC Audit

    I got to know about PSI & Belarc through you ~ thank you. I have no trouble keeping my PSI rating at 100%, but Belarc is very, very tough to keep ‘happy’ ~ it’s like a brown envelope hitting my doormat when I run Belarc :)

    • Hi Michael,

      I trust you’re referring to an envelope that is heavy with a cheque! :)

      Have to agree with you on Belarc – a terrific app.

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Kathleen Drotar

    I insisted on putting PSI on my mom’s desktop as she lived a considerable distance from me at the time, and when I did get to visit I would be horrified by the outdated apps that I would find while checking out her PC. Then I continued to be horrified on succeeding visits because she didn’t really “get it” and so therefore didn’t update any apps that PSI would flag. I was forever grateful when 2.0 came out as it added the Auto-Update option.

    I pride myself on keeping on top of things on my computers by reading numerous tech blogs starting with yours and Paul Thurotte’s as I seem to learn the most about security and Windows from the two of you. I have a tab on my iGoogle home page strictly for tech blogs and usually by just reading the “headlines” know when an application has had an update released. I also receive update notifications from CNET downloads referring to specific applications that I download from their site. I hadn’t put PSI on either of my computers since swapping out the hard drive on the desktop and partitioning and adding Windows 7 on my Vista laptop. I didn’t need it. I checked around daily, I received update emails. Well, I got sick awhile back and those type of things were more than I was up to for a while but as I got back to being myself, I paid attention and got everything updated again. Since my usage of my laptop had become somewhat erratic, I decided it would be a good idea to put PSI on it so that I wouldn’t have to work so hard at it… long story longer I was embarrassed to find that I wasn’t as updated as I thought and I too, had an outdated VLC Media Player running as well as an Adobe Flash Player. My mother used to always say, ” Pride goeth before the fall.”

    • Hi Kat,

      Your experience, together with your Mom’s, underscores the importance of running PSI. I’m certainly not immune – I’ll occasionally find I’m a little behind (the showmakers daughter’s syndrome, I think :) ), so the Auto-Update option, as you rightly pointed out, has made a critical difference.

      Terrific comment – adds immeasurable to the article’s content.

      Good to hear from you.

      Bill

      • That “showmakers daughter’s syndrome” was a new one on me Bill & I had to look it up, but without success. Then it clicked. Of course !

        The cobbler’s wife (goes barefoot) or
        The cobbler’s child (has no shoes)

        There’s a few ironies here & I’m laughing my socks off :)

  4. Jose

    Secunia is unique.
    It’s the only program that will search for patches, instead of simply updates.
    It is, as well, one (if not the one) that will search for everything in your machine.
    It’s a Danish company (bless it).
    It got over its initial bugs.
    It’s free.

    Thanks for calling it to attention Bill.

    Jose

    • Hi Jose,

      Perfectly stated – you’re entire comment is pertinent.

      Interesting – I’ve always liked the idea that this is a Danish company. Less BS and more substance, I think. :)

      Best,

      Bill

  5. Georg Lechner

    Hi, Bill:

    Now that Secunia PSI is mature enough; I also use it, but always in conjunction with the FileHippo update checker to get a second opinion.
    See

    http://www.filehippo.com/updatechecker/

    Running them in tandem is the way to go, I think.

    All the best

    Georg

  6. Ben

    I use File Hippo Update Checker for updating programs. I tried Secunia PSI on your recommendation, but I strongly disliked it due to its running multiple processes and services and using a fair amount of memory. Besides those reasons, the interface also was somewhat complicated. Here are some reasons why I like File Hippo Updater:
    -Very small, easy to configure program
    -Does one job and does it well (scan takes under 5 seconds for me)
    -Allows the user to have it run at startup, but once it checks for updates, if there are none, closes down, therefore saving memory.
    -Allows for checking for beta updates, not just stable.
    -Allows the user to hide an update that he/she doesn’t want

    Here’s the link: http://www.filehippo.com/updatechecker/

  7. Pingback: Free FileHippo Update Checker – Excellent Alternative To Secunia PSI | Bill Mullins' Weblog – Tech Thoughts