Despite 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.
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.
The settings menu provides a full range of adjustments so that you can configure the application to more accurately meet your specific needs.
The following screen capture illustrates a security scan in progress. The full scan took under two minutes to complete.
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!
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!
Additional data on an insecure program can be gathered by double clicking on the program, as shown in the following screen shot.
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).
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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