Tag Archives: beta

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

PhotoDirector 2011 – Special Offer – Save $99.95

imageSometime back, I reported on Adobe Lightroom Release Candidate 3.4, which had just been cleared by Adobe for download. In a bit of a twist on this tried and true method in product development – CyberLink, has recently released their PhotoDirector 2011 beta.

Here’s the twist – if you provide feedback on the beta version (takes 2/3 minutes), to the developer’s by June 20, 2011, you will receive the official release version (when available), for free (US $99.95 value).

Don’t be put off by the fact that this is a beta version. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating – In the last year or two, I’ve found that beta software can often be as stable as the final release. It may well be, that Microsoft raised the bar for both beta, and release candidates, with reasonably flawless releases of Windows 7 in both these formats.

My understanding is – on or about June 30, 2011, an e-mail from the developer will provide you with download details for the full version of the final release.

Here are the conditions.

Limitations: Participants will receive a 90 day trial version of the software by providing a valid email address.

Feedback:  To receive the full version of the software after it is released, participants must be over 18 years of age and provide feedback to a designated CyberLink email address related  directly to how the participants experienced PhotoDirector by June 20th, 2011.

I have downloaded and installed this application but, have not yet had an opportunity to put it through its paces. Still, based on the following screen shots from my test system, the application seems to be fully featured. What’s with the dark GUI though?

Click on graphic to expand to original.

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Click on graphic to expand to original.

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Click on graphic to expand to original.

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Fast facts: some of the main features.

  • Import and organize all your photos in the library for easy browsing and editing.
  • View each individual photo’s metadata information.
  • Add and embed keyword tags and copyright information in photos.
  • Crop and rotate photos, or apply touch-ups such as red-eye and spot removal.
  • Modify photo color and white balance with easy to use adjustment controls.
  • Sharpen photos and correct photos that contain unwanted vignetting or image noise.
  • Create dazzling photo slideshows and output them as video files.
  • Share photos on Facebook and Flickr, and upload created photo slideshows directly to YouTube.

You can learn much more here (PDF format).

System Requirements (from the developer):

CPU Processor

  • Intel Pentium D 3.0 GHz CPU with hyper-threading or equivalent AMD CPU is minimal.

Screen Resolution

  • 1024 X 768, 16-bit color or above.

Operating System

  • Microsoft Windows 7 (32 bit and 64 bit).
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (32 bit and 64 bit).
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 3.

Memory

  • 2 GB is required.

Graphics Card

  • Intel 945 GM and above (Independent graphics card recommended).

Hard Disk Space

  • 1 GB of disk space for application and documentation.

To download this special offer, go here.

If you’re looking for a free professional level photo application, you might want to consider this offer.

Update: June 12, 2011 – here’s what real world user, and regular reader John B., thinks about this application.

Hi Bill,

I’ve now had a chance to work with PhotoDirector 2011 Beta.

After checking the download with VirusTotal, the software installed easily with Revo Uninstaller; none of the problems I’ve experienced in the past with some other paid-for programs. I did not have to disable or adjust my firewall or other security applications such as WinPatrol.

The program opened with a splash screen pointing out that this is a 90 day trial version. Once inside, I was presented with a familiar-looking GUI in thumbnail view. This comprised a work window for the selected file, with a horizontal scrollable strip of thumbnails beneath. To get pictures into the thumbnail strip is simplicity itself. You click “Import” and navigate to the required folder, either from the generic folders displayed by default or, in my case to one on my desktop. Then select the desired files and they appear in the thumbnail strip, with the first one in the work window ready for editing.

The import took a little time but I had selected 300 photos, each of about 18mb. I usually shoot in Sony RAW (.arw) and was delighted to see that this format was recognised without needing any plugins. In fact there is support for a very wide range of camera RAW versions.

The editing itself was very easy, with a good range of adjustments available under the “Adjustment” tab. The only thing missing from my personal point of view was “curves”, which I find gives excellent results quickly. However its absence made me check out the other available options in some detail. I found them to be very easy and intuitive to use.

As each picture is worked on, its thumbnail is tagged as “adjusted”. Once editing is complete, a click on “Select by Adjusted” under the “Edit” tab allows those photos to be exported to a folder of choice. By default the photos are converted to jpeg files, in my case of about 4mb each.

Unfortunately, after about an hour or so of work, the program suddenly crashed without warning. I had not exported any of the photos I had edited and was concerned that all my work would be lost. However, on reopening the software, I was pleased to see all my pictures present with those I had worked on still tagged. Needless to say I exported them without delay and continued to work on the remainder. The second crash came after about another 90 minutes. This time I was not so lucky as, when I restarted the program, all my pictures were gone, including the tagged ones.

I cannot say whether these crashes were the fault of the software, or because of some conflict in my laptop. What I can say is that I will happily continue with the Beta version and will equally happily accept a free licence after 20 June. Further, I would say that, if others can run the program without crashes, it is well worth the full licence cost.

In conclusion, this program has nearly everything that a high level photographer / editor requires. In addition I understand that a wide range of presets is available on line for those who need less fine control over the results.

Thank you John – as always I very much appreciate your input.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Beta Software, Digital Media, downloads, Free Full Versions, Giveaways, Graphic Software, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Software, Software Giveaways, Windows Tips and Tools

Breadcrumbs Privacy Software 1.1.3.1 (Beta) Updated – Now With 64 Bit Support

Earlier this month, I ran a short test on Breadcrumbs Privacy Software (Beta) – Free Breadcrumbs Beta – Slaps Down Data Miners – which, according to the developer “……. automatically creates a Bogus Identity for you, thus preventing trackers from analyzing your real browsing information, leaving them with useless data.”

So, is this fair – is it OK to screw with so called “data miners”? Undoubtedly, you’ll make up your own mind on this – but, I won’t hesitate to state my opinion – “You’re damn right it is!”

Data miners, in an attempt to camouflage broad scale privacy intrusions, conveniently refer to their activities as predictive analytics, customer profiling, customer segmentation, predictive modeling, lifestyle clustering – yeah, right.

While predictive analytics, predictive modeling, etc. (you have to love how these guys paint privacy intrusions), may well be allowed under existing legislation – from a moral and ethical perspective, it’s reprehensible in my view.

Consider this – you’re cruising the Net and a tracker, or trackers, records every action you take, every motion you make –recording the type of sites you visit and revisit, time spent on sites, your shopping and spending habits, your political views, your marital status, and much more. All of this builds a profile of your browsing habits so that the data (your personal data), can be sold, bartered, and traded.

But don’t look for any sweeping legislative changes which will rein in these parasites any time soon. By and large, regulatory authorities have neither the moral courage, or the technical acumen (they simple fail to grasp the essence of the technology) necessary to enact appropriate consumer protection laws.

If you object to this type of intrusion into your privacy, then consider installing Breadcrumbs Privacy Software, and give these intrusive jerks the heave-ho. It may not be a perfect solution but, it’s a definite step in the right direction.

Fast facts:

Create your bogus identity – Breadcrumbs bogus Identity feature automatically creates a Bogus Identity for you, thus preventing trackers from analyzing your real browsing information, leaving them with useless data. Read more

The Do Not Track Me stamp – Once enabled, the Do Not Track Me stamp identifies you as a Breadcrumbs Protected User. It tells trackers that you do not wish to be tracked, and also lets them know that they will be fooled by your Bogus Identity in case they decide to track you anyway. Read more

Watchers Analytics – Breadcrumbs Watchers Analytics feature enables you to see who is watching you online. It’s an easy way to block ads and prevent trackers from tracking you across the Internet. Read more

Installation is simple and the application settings are limited, but effective. Click on the graphic to expand to original.

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The dashboard will give you the opportunity to “watch the watchers” and block selectively. Click on the graphic to expand to original.

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The most interesting feature of Breadcrumbs is the promise that it will build a “‘bogus identity” which will mislead watchers. Click on the graphic to expand to original.

According to the developer –

“In order for the feature to work it first needs to “learn the user” then it will synthesize what bogus data should be added in order to mask your real data and identity (so give it a few more hours/days). All of the learning process is encrypted and is done on the client-side, hence no one can see or use it but the software (and in the future you).”

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In the following screen capture the expandable “Page Watcher” panel is shown – (shown expanded). This feature is selectable under “settings”. Click on the graphic to expand to original.

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Current Version: 1.1.3.1 (Beta) – release date: May 24, 2011.

Changes in this version:

Bug fixes.

Better performance (CPU + RAM)

64 bit support.

Enhanced security to the automated Bogus browser.

Tray notifier which notifies when privacy protection analysis ended, and when a new software version is available.

Added the option to turn watchers blocking on and off through the Watchers Analytics Panel in your browser, this feature is very helpful in cases you are not sure if the page is not loaded correctly because a watcher is blocked (so you can just turn blocking off and see if that is the problem) – the panel appears in red in case blocking is turned off.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista and Win 7. Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 or above. (Breadcrumbs installer will alert you in case .NET Framework installation is needed)

Supported Web Browsers: Internet Explorer 7 or above. (including IE9). Firefox 3.6 or above. (including FF4). Google Chrome.

Download at: Developer’s site (Breadcrumb Solutions)

Breadcrumbs Usage and Demo: Video 2:26

I often hear from people who feel that since the information being mined is anonymous, no real invasion of privacy is taking place. While that may have been the case previously, that’s not the case currently.

Consider readingPrivacy: reidentification a growing risk.

Browser fingerprinting (a method used to identify you specifically) – Consider taking the Panopticlick test which analyses  your browser to see how unique it is based on the information it will share with sites it visits.

My test results:

Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 1,546,722 tested so far. Currently, we estimate that your browser has a fingerprint that conveys at least 20.56 bits of identifying information.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Beta Software, Browsers, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Privacy, Software, Surveillance, Windows Tips and Tools

Web of Trust (WOT) And Facebook Collaborate To Protect Users From Malicious Links

imageIf you’re a Facebook user and you haven’t met a cybercriminal yet; hang in there – you will. Survey after survey continue to show that cybercriminals are picking off Facebook users as if they were shooting fish in a barrel.

Most cybercriminal schemes on Facebook are outrageous. But the bad guys know, that even the most outrageous schemes stand a better than average chance of being successful when targeted at Facebook’s largely unaware, and unsophisticated, user base.

With the collaborative effort announced today by Facebook and Web of Trust, WOT will now provide protection against dubious and malicious web links, that Facebook users continue to be exposed to. When a Facebook user clicks a link that leads to a page with a poor reputation rating as defined by the WOT community, Facebook will show a clear warning message.

Click on graphic to expand to original.

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The plan is to roll out to US users 100% on May 12, and then the following week, after the translators have time to finish their work, roll out globally.

A quick reminder:

WOT’s Browser add-on users see reputation icons on Web sites, Google search results, email links, Twitter, as well as shortened URLs. WOT ratings are recalculated every 30 minutes to ensure users have the freshest and most reliable information. The free WOT add-on works in all web browsers and can be downloaded here.

You can read a full review on the benefits of adding WOT to your Browser here on this site – WOT (Web of Trust) – Is It The Most Important Browser Security Add-on You Need To Install?

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser Plug-ins, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, FaceBook, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Malware Protection, Online Safety, social networking, Social Networks, Software, Windows Tips and Tools, WOT (Web of Trust)

BufferZone Pro 64 Bit Beta Released

Following the review of BufferZone Pro here earlier this year, a fair number of readers were disappointed to see that a 64 bit version of this free virtualization application from Trustware, was not yet available.

Well here’s some good news – those readers who have been waiting for a 64 bit version of  BufferZone Pro need wait no longer. Trustwareis opening the registration for the BufferZone Pro 4 beta version, which includes support for 64-bit Windows installations, on March 28,2011 (9:00 am PST).

To register for the beta program, or for more information, go here.

From “Free BufferZone Pro – Maybe The Best Surfing Virtualization Application At Any Price”, posted here February 22, 2011 –

Controlling malware intrusion, while surfing the Net, through the use of a ‘”virtual” environment rather than operating in a “real” environment, makes sense given the escalating level of cyber criminal activity on the Internet.

From the developer’s site:

BufferZone Pro keeps you surfing, downloading, e-banking, sharing, chatting, and e-mailing to your heart’s content – basically, using the Internet as it should be used. The Virtual Zone gives you total freedom, peace and security on the Web. With BufferZone Pro, you can do absolutely anything on the Internet threat free.

With BufferZone, all programs or files that enter your computer through downloading, browsing, or uploading with external media devices, are redirected to a Virtual Zone (C:\Virtual). And, since any intrusion attempt occurs within this virtual environment, there’s nothing in that summary that I can disagree with. BufferZone’s Virtual Zone does protect a PC from all forms of known, or unknown, attacks originating from the Internet, or external devices.

It does so in a non intrusive way, and after initial setup, requires a minimum of user intervention – perfect for the average user. Installation is hassle free – it’s just a matter of  following the on-screen instructions.

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BufferZone sits in the Taskbar and can be fully controlled from there.

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System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (32-bit). 64 bit users now have access to BufferZone 4 Beta available here.

Note: 32 bit users can download stable version 3 here.

As with all beta, or release candidates, take sensible precautions prior to installation. This should include setting a new restore point.

Update: April 25, 2011 – Regular reader Charlie  reports the following:

“When I uninstall it or surf outside of it, I lose all my firefox bookmarks.  Installing returns the bookmarks.  Also, won’t let me keep Chrome bookmarks.I checked the support form, and others had the same problems.  No answers were provided, however.

If you have experienced these conditions, and you have developed a solution – please let us know.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Beta Software, Cyber Crime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Malware Protection, Online Safety, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Virtualization, Windows Tips and Tools

WOT Beta for Social Media – Facebook, Twitter Protection And More

imageWOT (Web of Trust), has just raised the Internet security bar a notch by releasing a Beta version of their award winning Browser add-on which will provide protection against cybercriminals in a number of their favorite hunting grounds – Facebook and Twitter.

Hopefully, WOT’s reputation icons on links in Facebook, Twitter and additionally for shortened URLs by most popular services, such as bit.ly and t.co, will help thwart some of the most outrageous criminal schemes perpetrated on unaware social networking site users.

At the moment, the beta of WOT for social media is available for Firefox only. But, be quick – there are only 1000 preview downloads available!

Download the beta version of WOT for Social Media here.

According to WOT – “The new WOT version will be released in a few weeks for general WOT users, and newcomers.”

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser add-ons, cybercrime, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, social networking, Software, WOT (Web of Trust)

Run Splashtop, A Free Web Centric OS To Reduce Your Exposure To Malware

imageCurrent statistics indicate that over 95 percent of viruses, spyware, and other types of malware, are designed and targeted to attack Microsoft Windows. And, the route by which the majority of malware spreads, and intrusion attempts take place is the Internet Browser.

It seems reasonable to make the point then, that if you’re not running Windows while surfing the Net, but instead, you’re running an alternative operating system, you shouldn’t have to unnecessarily worry about malware, viruses, and spyware.

Regular readers might recall that I do most of my surfing using Linux; specifically Ubuntu. And yes, I’m aware of of all the counter arguments that surround this choice – “security through obscurity”, “Linux is built from the ground up with security in mind”, and on and on.

None of the various contentious points of view really make much difference to me. The reality is straightforward – all statistics indicate that surfing with a non-Windows system can reduce the malware risks Windows users have to contend with.

If you are leaning towards running an alternative to Windows, while interacting with the Net, then Splashtop OS, a Linux driven Web centric, (Chrome focused), specialty operating system (which coexists with Windows),  and is close to “instant on”, – about 10 seconds to boot and reach the Net in my tests, is worth taking for a spin.

Splashtop, (in beta currently), was initially designed to run on specific HP systems only, but it can now run on virtually any Windows system. Following installation, (from within Windows), on subsequent boots you will have the opportunity to boot into Splashtop, or Windows, through a boot menu.

Booting back into Windows once you’re in Splashtop, is “one click” simple.

You won’t get lost during the install which is very straightforward.

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On completion of the install process, you will have an opportunity to gather additional information.

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and perform a number of setup tasks.

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The desktop is rather plain, but given that Splashtop has been designed as a Web centric OS, it’s still very functional.

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Fast facts:

FAST:  Starts in seconds — way before Windows

EASY:  Featuring Instant Search, powered by Bing

SAFE:  A Linux-based platform running Chromium

READY:  Includes Adobe Flash Player pre-installed

PERSONAL:  Choose from thousands of Web Apps, extensions, and themes at the Chrome Web Store, and install the ones you want

SIMPLE:  Your existing Windows bookmarks and Wi-Fi Settings profile can be imported from Windows into Splashtop OS

CONVENIENT:  Visual Bookmarks show thumbnails of recently visited web pages (or can be hidden if desired)

CUSTOMIZABLE:  From the Status Bar, check the status of network connections, volume, power supply; or open the Configuration Panel and then set your preferences

FLEXIBLE:  If desired, you can exit Splashtop OS and boot to the Windows OS at any time

Running Splashtop will allow you to surf, and interact with the Internet as you normally would – including interacting with instant messaging, email, music, photos, documents, gaming, etc. And, it really is virtually “instant on”.

Additional details available at the developer’s site:

Using features of the Web Browser

Using the Splashtop OS Configuration Utility in Windows

Using the Boot Menu (unsupported computers only)

Announcements and Frequently Asked Questions

More information at the Splashtop OS web page

Download at: Splashtop

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Filed under Alternatives to Windows, Beta Software, Chrome, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Google Chrome, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools, Linux, Operating Systems, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools