Category Archives: Application Vulnerabilities

Secunia PSI 3.0 (Beta) – Automatic, Comprehensive Patching Of Insecure Applications

imageOne of the most frequently repeated pieces of advice on this site is – “Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched, and up to date”. Taking this simply step, reduces the likelihood that malware will become an issue a user will have to deal with – significantly.

Sounds like good, practical advice – and it is. But as those of us involved in computer security know; this is advice that is not always followed. Some hold the view (including me), that it is rarely followed.

One particular application that I have reviewed and recommended a number of times – that assists users in keeping a system fully patched is – Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) – which constantly monitors a system for insecure software installations, notifies the user when an insecure application is installed, and then provides the user with detailed instructions for updating the application, when available.

There’s less reason now, than ever, to disregard this critical advice. Today, Secunia launched version 3 (Beta) of its free Personal Software Inspector (PSI), with a host of new features. The new version makes patching software more comprehensive, automatic, and easier than ever. How simple is that? PSI 3 takes the burden out of updating and patching.

Fast facts:

Extended automatic patching using the Secunia Package System (SPS), removing the dependency on vendors providing silent installers.

It automatically detects insecure programs – from all software vendors, not just those from Microsoft – that need updating.

The Secunia PSI then downloads the required security updates and installs them without any effort from the user, making it much easier to maintain a secure PC.

New and dramatically simplified user interface

Non-intrusive authenticated vulnerability and patch scanning

Auto-update of programs

Covers programs and plug-ins from thousands of vendors

Unprecedented accuracy

Reports security status for each.

Wondering just how PSI does its job? Secunia explains:

The Secunia PSI works by examining files on a computer (primarily .exe, .dll, and .ocx files). These files contain non-specific meta information provided by the software vendor. This data is the same for all users and originates from the installed programs on your computer — never from their configuration.

After examining all the files on the local hard drive(s), the collected data is sent to Secunia’s servers, which match the data against the Secunia File Signatures engine. This information can then be used to provide a detailed report of the missing security related updates for the user’s system. The Secunia PSI automatically performs scans every seven days to ensure that the latest secure versions of the software is installed.

The Secunia PSI 3.0 (beta) can be downloaded from Secunia’s website now at Secunia.com/PSI.

Previous reviews of this must have application here include:

Not Running Secunia PSI? Why Not?

Secunia Personal Software Inspector – Insurance Against Vulnerabilities

How secure do you think you are? Run a quick scan of your computer with Secunia Online Software Inspector.

About Secunia:

Founded in 2002, Secunia is the leading provider of IT security solutions that help businesses and private individuals globally manage and control vulnerability threats, risks across their networks, and end-points. This is enabled by Secunia’s award-winning Vulnerability Intelligence, Vulnerability Assessment, and Patch Management solutions that ensure optimal and cost-effective protection of critical information assets.

Secunia plays an important role in the IT security ecosystem, and is the preferred supplier for enterprises and government agencies worldwide, counting Fortune 500 and Global 2000 businesses among its customer base. Secunia has operations in North America, the UK, and the Middle East, and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Application Vulnerabilities, downloads, Freeware, Malware Protection, Secunia

Avoid Accidents On The Internet Highway By Patching Your OS AND Applications

This morning, I read Ed Bott’s latest (Bott is a favorite of mine) – If your PC picks up a virus, whose fault is it? Here’s a summary –

Want to avoid being attacked by viruses and other malware? Two recent studies reveal the secret: regular patching. A fully patched system with a firewall enabled offers almost complete protection against drive-by attacks and outside intruders.

While reading through Bott’s  article, I was certainly put in mind of Yogi Berra’s often quoted “This is like deja vu all over again.” Current Internet security, and the best practices associated with it, really is “deja vu all over again” – and over, and over, and over. The fundamentals haven’t changed. Common sense is as much in vogue now, as it ever was.

In his article (which is worth a read), Bott relies on two recently released studies to bolster his point, that staying safe online, begins with “regular patching …….. the single most important element in any security program”.

Since the underlying theme is something I hammer on here, on a regular basis, it goes without saying that I agree with Bott, and the data generated in the studies. With that in mind, I’m reposting an article which I wrote in July 2010 – If You Get A Malware Infection Who’s Fault Is It Really? – which underscores the importance of patching not only the operating system, but the often neglected patching of installed applications.

If You Get A Malware Infection Who’s Fault Is It Really?

imageThe security industry, especially security analysts, and for that matter, computer users at large, love to dump on Microsoft when they get a malware infection. If only Microsoft got their act together, the theory goes, and hardened Windows more appropriately, we wouldn’t have to deal with this nonsense.

But, what if it isn’t entirely Microsoft’s fault? What if it’s really a shared responsibility split between Microsoft, third party software developers, and the user?

From time to time, I’m accused of being “too frank”; usually on those occasions when diplomacy needs to be put aside, so that realities can be dealt with. For example, I’ve left myself open to criticism, in some quarters, by stating on more than one occasion –

It has been my experience, that when a malware infection occurs, it’s generally safe to say, the user is, more often than not, responsible for their own misfortune.

Computer users, by and large, are lackadaisical in securing their computers against threats to their Internet safety and security.

Strong statements I’ll admit, but if you consider the following, which I have repeated over and over, you’ll understand why I feel comfortable making this statement.

Not all users make use of Microsoft’s Windows Update so that they are current with operating system critical updates, and security fixes. More to the point, few users have given consideration to the vulnerabilities that exist in third party productivity applications and utilities.

Unless you monitor your system for insecure and unpatched software installations, you have left a huge gap in your defenses – it’s just plain common sense.

The just released Secunia Half Year Report – 2010, shows “an alarming development in 3rd party program vulnerabilities, representing an increasing threat to both users and business, which, however, continues to be greatly ignored”, supports my view that security is a shared responsible, and blaming Microsoft simply ignores the reality.

The report goes on to conclude, “users and businesses still perceive the operating system and Microsoft products to be the primary attack vector, largely ignoring 3rd party programs, and finding the actions to secure these too complex and time-consuming. Ultimately this leads to incomplete patch levels of the 3rd party programs, representing rewarding and effective targets for criminals.”

Key highlights of the Secunia Half Year Report 2010:

Since 2005, no significant up-, or downward trend in the total number of vulnerabilities in the more than 29,000 products covered by Secunia Vulnerability Intelligence was observed.

A group of ten vendors, including Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, IBM, Adobe, and Cisco, account on average for 38 percent of all vulnerabilities disclosed per year.

In the two years from 2007 to 2009, the number of vulnerabilities affecting a typical end-user PC almost doubled from 220 to 420, and based on the data of the first six months of 2010, the number is expected to almost double again in 2010, to 760.

During the first six months of 2010, 380 vulnerabilities or 89% of the figures for all of 2009 has already been reached.

A typical end-user PC with 50 programs installed had 3.5 times more vulnerabilities in the 24 3rd party programs installed than in the 26 Microsoft programs installed. It is expected that this ratio will increase to 4.4 in 2010.

The full report (PDF), is available here.

Each week, I receive the Qualys Vulnerability Report, and I never fail to be astonished by the huge number of application vulnerabilities listed in this report. I’ve always felt, that the software industry should thank their “lucky stars”, that this report is not particularly well known outside the professional IT security community. It’s that scary.

There is a solution to this quandary however – the Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI).

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.

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ZD Net, one of my favorite web sites has stated “Secunia Personal Software Inspector, quite possibly the most useful and important free application you can have running on your Windows machine”. In my view, this is not an overstatement.

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

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Quick facts:

The Secunia PSI is free for private use.

Downloaded over 800,000 times

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 you can resolve it.

System Requirements: Windows 2000, XP 32/64bit, Vista 32/64bit, and Win 7 32/64bit.

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.

System Requirements: Windows 2000, XP 32/64bit, Vista 32/64bit, and Win 7 32/64bit.

Link: Secunia Online Software Inspector

As an added bonus for users, Secunia provides a forum where PSI users can discuss patching, product updates, exploits, the PSI, and anything else security-related.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Application Vulnerabilities, Diagnostic Software, downloads, Freeware, Malware Protection, Secunia, Software, System Security, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Search Engine Malware – The Same Old, Same Old

In the News within the past 3 days

Web security firm Armorize – over 6 million e-commerce web pages have been compromised in order to serve malware to users.

Ed Bott Report – criminal gangs that specialize in malware love search engines, because they represent an ideal vector for getting Windows users to click on links that lead to potentially dangerous Trojans. The latest attack targets ads, and the social engineering is frighteningly good.

Not in the News

The specifics may be news but, this particular malware attack vector is so old I’m surprised that more Internet users aren’t aware of it. No, I take that back – based on a conversation I had just last night.

Me: “So, what antimalware applications are you currently running?”

She: “Well, I can cut and paste and I can get on the Internet, but I don’t worry about all that other stuff. I don’t understand it anyway.”

I’m well past the point where I allow myself to show surprise when I hear this type of response – it’s just so typical. Given that level of knowledge, it’s hardly surprising then, that consumer confidence in the reliability of search engine results, including relevant ads, is taken for granted.

I’ve yet to meet a typical user who would consider questioning a search engine’s output as to its relevant safety.  It’s been my experience, that typical Internet users blindly assume all search engine results are malware free.

This, despite the reality that the manipulation of search engine results, exploiting legitimate pages, and the seeding of malicious websites among the top results returned by search engines in order to infect users with malware, is a continuing threat to system security.

Here’s how the cyber crooks do it:

When a potential victim visits one of these infected sites the likelihood of the downloading of malicious code onto the computer by exploiting existing vulnerabilities is high.

Let’s take, as an example, a typical user running a search for “great vacation spots” on one of the popular search engines.

Unknown to the user, the search engine returns a malicious or compromised web page as one of the most popular sites. Users with less than complete Internet security who visit this page will have an extremely high chance of becoming infected.

There are a number of ways that this can occur. Cyber-crooks can exploit vulnerabilities on the server hosting the web page to insert an iFrame, (an HTML element which makes it possible to embed another HTML document inside the main document). The iFrame can then activate the download of malicious code by exploiting additional vulnerabilities on the visiting machine.

Alternatively, a new web page can be built, with iFrames inserted, that can lead to malware downloads. This new web page appears to be legitimate. In the example mentioned earlier, the web page would appear to be a typical page offering great vacation spots.

Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected.

Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (my personal favorite), which provides detailed test results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams

Don’t open unknown email attachments

Don’t run programs of unknown origin

Disable hidden filename extensions

Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched

Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use

Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

Disable scripting features in email programs

Make regular backups of critical data

Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised

Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer

Install a personal firewall on the computer

Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet

Ensure the anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments

Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected.

The following comment (posted here March 15, 2011), illustrates perfectly the issues discussed in this article.

Funny you write about this today. I was reading about the spider issue Mazda was having and wanted to know what the spider looked like so I Googled it, went to images and there it was. There was also a US map that had areas highlighted, assuming where the spiders exist, and before I clicked on the map I made sure there was the green “O” for WOT for security reasons.

I clicked on the map and BAM I was redirected instantly and hit w/ the “You have a virus” scan malware. I turned off my modem then shut my computer off. I restarted it and scanned my computer w/ MS Security Essentials and Super Anti Spyware. MS Essentials found Exploit:Java/CVE-2010-0094.AF, and Trojan:Java/Mesdeh and removed them. I use WOT all the time, but now I’m going to be super cautious.

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Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Browser add-ons, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Protection, Online Safety, Search Engines, Software, trojans, Windows Tips and Tools

Free FileHippo Update Checker – Excellent Alternative To Secunia PSI

I gotta love the regular readers here – they definitely keep me on my toes. Based on a recent article – Not Running Secunia PSI? Why Not? – a number of readers had the same question (both in comments and privately); what about FileHippo Update Checker? Rightfully so – FileHippo Update Checker is an outstanding application in its own right.

Luckily (whew!), I had reviewed and recommended this solid freebie back in May, 2010. Based on reader feedback, I’ve edited this previous article (including updated graphics), and reposted it here.

Free FileHippo Update Checker – A Very Cool Tool

image One of the most frequently repeated pieces of advice on this site is – “Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched, and up to date”. Sounds like good, practical advice – and it is. But as those of us involved in computer security know; this is advice that is not always followed.

Experienced users are generally aware that free, automated applications, are readily available for download, that take the burden out of updating and patching.

One particular application that I have reviewed and recommended a number of times – that does just that is, Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI), which constantly monitors a system for insecure software installations, notifies the user when an insecure application is installed, and then provides the user with detailed instructions for updating the application, when available.

Like all applications, PSI is not perfect. The most common complaint seems to be, that after updating applications it may still report that specific applications are out-of-date, or pose a threat.

Regular reader, and IT pro, Georg L., from Vienna, Austria, has pointed out that an alternative to PSI, which is compatible with x64 systems, and which does a comparable job of checking your installed software for critical updates, and security fixes, is FileHippo’s free Update Checker.

Following Georg’s recommendation, I sparked up an older test machine, and downloaded and installed Update Checker. The test scan took only a matter of seconds. Less than 3 seconds in this test – virtually in the blink of an eye!

The updated Browser screen shot below, illustrates the results obtained following the Update Checker test scan.

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For testing purposes I clicked on the green download arrow which opened the following download applet, so that I could update one of my favorite free utilities – CDBurnerXP

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I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed FileHippo’s Update Checker returned results for Beta Updates as well – as the following screen capture indicates. For those users who like to test Beta software, this is a definite bonus.

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It’s important to understand that all software of this type may well have shortcomings of one type, or another. FileHippo’s Update Checker, for example, does not support all programs.

This should not be surprising, given the enormous quantity of available applications. The most popular applications, of course (the ones you are most likely to have installed), are covered.

From the developer’s site:

We work hard to include as many programs as we can in the Update Checker, but we currently cannot detect them all. This can be for various reasons, including: technical issues, publisher limitations or lack of consistent version numbering. However, we’re constantly advancing our detection methods and working with publishers to improve this.

Note: The Update Checker will not send any personal information back to FileHippo.com. The only information collected is a list of programs and their versions, along with the operating system details to help with processing.

Additionally, none of this information is linked to your IP address; the logs are deleted after processing.

Recommendation: I was quite impressed with this application’s speed, and thoroughness. A definite practical alternative to Secunia Personal Software Inspector.

If you’re inclined to do so – download both applications, take them for a spin, and form your own opinion. You’ll have a little bit of fun!

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2003, 2000, ME or 98. (both 32 and 64 bit where applicable). Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 (the installer will prompt you and download it automatically).

Download at: FileHippo

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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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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

Close Security Holes In Windows With Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer

imageIntrusion detection systems do a good job in protecting physical environments against desperados, burglars, and trespassers. But, creating an access point by leaving a window or a door open, obviously reduces the efficiency of such a system.

Computer intrusion detection systems are no different – leaving a window open in Windows (if you’ll pardon the expression), can result in an illegal intrusion that can often remain undetected.

To help you assess the overall state of security on your computer (and close any open windows in Windows), Microsoft provides a free scanning tool – Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer 2.2 (MBSA), which will scan your system and provide you with a report on your machine’s security, based on Microsoft security recommendations.

For reference purposes, I’ve gathered the following statistics from the Iolo  Threat Center. The Global System Status Details are based on 86,098 samples accumulated by Iolo since March 26, 2011. This data is in line with the data obtained from more comprehensive studies we’ve seen over the last several years.

PCs without active virus protection: 53.42%
PCs without active firewall protection: 20.88%
Average number of security flaws: 13.56

MBSA includes both a graphical and a command line interface, that can perform local or remote scans of Microsoft Windows systems.

Scanning Options:

For each scan, the following options can be enabled, or disabled, as needed, in the MBSA user interface:

Check for Windows administrative vulnerabilities – scans for security issues such as Guest account status, file-system type, available file shares, and members of the Administrators group.

Check for weak passwords –  checks computers for blank and weak passwords during a scan.

Check for Internet Information Services (IIS) administrative vulnerabilities.

Check for SQL administrative vulnerabilities – checks for the type of authentication mode, account password status, and service account memberships.

Check for security updates (missing updates) – scans for missing security updates for the products published to the Microsoft Update site only.

The two areas, in the report, you will find most useful as a home user, are:

Security misconfiguration (less secure settings and configurations).

Missing security updates and service packs (if any).

The report will provide you with specific steps to take, should the application find issues.

The following screen capture from my test machine, illustrates the partial results of a typical scan – click to expand to original size.

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In order to run a scan with MBSA, you may need the IP address of your computer – an easy way to obtain this is here.

System Requirements: Windows 2000; Windows 7; Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2008; Windows Server 2008 R2; Windows Vista; Windows XP; Windows XP Embedded. (32 bit and 64 bit).

Download at: Microsoft

Note: Microsoft recommends viewing the readme.html file, before running MBSA the first time. If you are a regular reader here, I don’t think this is necessary, but….

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FOUR Free Alternatives To Adobe Reader Malware Magnet

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FLASH – A critical vulnerability (March 14, 2011), exists in Adobe Reader, as well as Flash Player and Acrobat. But don’t worry, Adobe will address this issue during the week of March 21, 2011. (OK, enough sarcasm).

If you’re shaking your head and wondering if you’ve heard this before – you can stop wondering. The date might be different; the vulnerability might be different, but you have heard this before – unfortunately, not once before, but often.

The graphics below (courtesy of Secunia – the developers of Secunia PSI), convincingly illustrate why Adobe Reader is considered one of the most hacked pieces of  software.

Month by Month (so far) in 2011
The “Month by Month” graph below shows the number of issued Secunia advisories affecting Adobe Reader 9.x on a month-by-month basis.

Month by Month in 2010
The “Month by Month” graph below shows the number of issued Secunia advisories affecting Adobe Reader 9.x on a month-by-month basis.

While it’s true that Adobe releases patches and updates to close security holes, they generally appear long after the vulnerabilities have been discovered and used to maximum advantage, by cyber crooks.

If you continue to use Adobe Reader, make sure you install the latest version. Users who continue running older versions of Adobe software (not uncommon), is a major element in cyber crooks successful manipulation of this  application.

Better yet – don’t even consider running Adobe Reader. Instead, choose one of a number of much faster, more streamlined free applications.

Nitro PDF Reader

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View, review, and create PDF files without compromise with the free solution PCWorld deemed “the most powerful free PDF reading and creation tool you can find…”

Fast facts:

Create PDF from 300+ file types

Comment, review, and collaborate on PDF files

100% compatibility with Adobe Acrobat and other common solutions

Fill, save, and submit PDF forms

Enable/disable JavaScript and control Web-based interactivity from PDF files

System requirements: Windows XP SP3, Vista SP2, Win 7 (x86 and x64)

Download at: Nitro PDF

Foxit Reader

Foxit Reader is a free PDF document viewer and printer. Small and fast, with a rich feature set.

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Fast facts:

Incredibly small: The download size of Foxit Reader is only 2.1 M which is a fraction of Acrobat Reader’s 20 M size.

Fast: When you run Foxit Reader, it launches instantly. You are not forced to view an annoying splash window displaying company logo, author names and so on.

Annotation tool: Have you ever wanted to annotate, or comment on, a PDF document. Foxit Reader allows you to draw graphics, highlight text, type text and make notes on a PDF document and then print out or save the annotated document.

Text converter: You can convert the whole PDF document into a simple text file.

Security and privacy: Foxit Reader doesn’t connect to the Internet without your permission. Other PDF readers often connect to the Internet in the background.

System requirements: Windows 2003, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows 2000

Download at: Download.com

Cool PDF Reader

This viewer has many the features of Adobe Reader, but unlike Adobe Reader, Cool PDF Reader loads PDF files extremely fast. Conversion from PDF to text and graphics formats is included.

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Fast facts:

View and Print PDF

Convert PDF to BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, WMF, EMF, EPS

Extract PDF to TXT

Support PDF files of all versions

Work with 68+ different languages

Zoom in/out and Rotate page displays

Slide show PDF document with full screen

Small in size, only 650KB

System requirements: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Server 2008, 2003, 2000. (32-bit and 64-bit support)

Download at: Download.com

Sumatra PDF Viewer

Sumatra has a minimalistic design, with its simplicity attained at the expense of extensive features. Sumatra takes up little disk space with an installed size of only 1.2MB, whereas Adobe Reader requires 335 MB of available disk space.

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Fast facts:

Sumatra PDF is a slim, free, and open-source.

Portable out of the box. Doesn’t write to registry.

Sumatra has a minimalistic design – simplicity has a higher priority than a lot of features.

It’s small and starts up very fast.

Hyperlinks embedded in PDF documents are supported.

Sumatra is multilingual, with 20 community-contributed translations.

System requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista

Download at: Download.com

Additional free PDF applications recommended by readers include:

Nuance PDF Reader

PDF-XChange Viewer

Both Foxit and Sumatra, are also available as portable versions from portableapps.com.

If PDF conversion is one of your considerations, then take a look at the free online conversion services offered by Nitro PDF Software – including Word to PDF, PDF to Word, HTML to PDF, and PDF to Excel.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Adobe, Application Vulnerabilities, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free PDF Software, Freeware, Internet Security Alerts, Portable Applications, Productivity Software, Software, USB, Windows Tips and Tools