Tag Archives: missing security updates

Check Your Windows System For Vulnerabilities With Microsoft’s Free Baseline Security Analyzer

imageIf you’re a regular reader here, this post will serve as a reminder that scanning for system vulnerabilities from time to time, is a prudent practice.

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 (MBSA), which will scan your system, and provide you with a report on your machine’s security – based on Microsoft’s security recommendations.

It’s important to remember that changes in system configuration may require additional use of MBSA in order to check the new configuration for compliance. This is particularly true when installing applications, or adding new optional components, which may install programs that have not been updated with the latest fixes.

For reference purposes, I’ve gathered the following statistics from the Iolo  Threat Center as of October 14, 2011. This data is in line with the data obtained from more comprehensive studies we’ve seen over the last several years.

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October 14, 2011.

PCs without active virus protection: 56.16%
PCs without active firewall protection: 36.11%
Average number of security flaws: 29.44

If we contrast this data with Iolo’s Global System Status Details as of March 26, 2011, it appears as if we’re on a slippery slope.

March 26, 2011.

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

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MBSA includes both a graphical and a command line interface, that can perform local or remote scans of Microsoft Windows systems. For this post I’ll focus on the graphical interface.

MBSA is capable of scanning not only a stand-alone system, but multiple systems as well.

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The GUI is straightforward, and as you can see in the following screen capture – checkbox simple.

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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.

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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 this test scan, MBSA has discovered – “2 service packs or update rollups are missing”. Clicking on – “Result details” brought up the following dialogue box and, as you can see, both IE 9 and Win 7 Service Pack 1, are not installed.

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Microsoft didn’t leave me hanging though. Instead, simply clicking “How to correct this”,  brought up the following Microsoft help page which lays out an easy solution.

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The following screen capture illustrates a portion of the report covering Administrative Vulnerabilities. In this area, you may find reminders that Microsoft may not necessarily agree with your personal preferences. Certainly, a number of mind rated a caution.

Should you find similar cautions following your scan, there’s no need to worry. Clicking on “How to correct this” for additional information, will help you determine if your personal preferences are safe. You may feel comfortable with your choices, despite Microsoft’s advice to the contrary.

Remember, you’re the boss.   Smile

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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).

Available languages: English, German, French, Japanese.

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….

7 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Computer Audit Applications, downloads, Freeware, Microsoft, Security Rating Applications, 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….

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

3 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Application Vulnerabilities, Computer Audit Applications, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Microsoft, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Check Windows Security Status With Free Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer 2.2

imageIntrusion detection systems do a good job (or so I’m told), in protecting physical environments against desperados 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), last updated in October, which will scan your system and provide you with a report on your computer’s security, based on Microsoft security recommendations.

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 results of a typical scan – click to expand to original size.

Baseline Analyzer

In order to run a scan with MBSA, you may need the IP address of your computer – the 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 your a typical user I don’t think this is necessary, but….

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

6 Comments

Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Computer Audit Applications, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Microsoft, Security Rating Applications, Software, System Security, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Check Your Computer’s Security Status with Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer 2.1.1

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

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 are:

Security mis-configuration (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 results of a typical scan. The screen capture shows only part of the report.

Microsoft Baseline 3

In order to run a scan with MBSA, you will need the IP address of your computer – the 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.

Download at: Microsoft

Note: Microsoft recommends viewing the readme.html file, before running MBSA the first time. If your a typical user I don’t think this is necessary, but….

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

11 Comments

Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Computer Audit Applications, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Microsoft, Security Rating Applications, Software, System Security, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Are Your Applications Vulnerable? Find Out with Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector

secunia2.jpgIf you are a security conscious computer user you are, most likely, generally well armed when it comes to ensuring your system is not open to compromise, or exploitation, by malware in the wild.

It is probable you have protected your machine with an appropriate defense system including a firewall (either software or hardware), a sound and effective malware suite (including anti-virus and spyware), and an additional protection layer against zero-day threats with the installation of an application such as ThreatFire 3 developed by PC Tools.

You can relax and you can consider yourself relatively safe, or perhaps even invulnerable, right? Well, maybe not. Sure, most of use Microsoft’s Windows Update so that we are current with operating system critical updates, and security fixes. You can determine whether or not you are running the latest WUA by visiting Windows Update.

But, where many of us are still vulnerable, is in the lack of consideration we have given to the vulnerabilities that exist in our currently installed applications.

Some recent examples of vulnerabilities include, Mozilla Firefox, Apple iTunes, Quicktime, Skype internet phone, Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.02, 6.03, Sun Java Run-Time, Macromedia Flash 7, Winzip 8.1, AOL Instant Messenger 5.5, Windows/MSN Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger 6.0, BitDefender, RealPlayer.

So, wouldn’t it be great if there was a free application that could do the job of ensuring that all installed applications were either patched or up-to-date? Well, there is.

The Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) from Secunia 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.

ZD Net, one of my favorite sites has stated “Secunia Personal Software Inspector, quite possibly the most useful and important free application you can have running on your Windows machine”.

Quick Overview:

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

Scans for Insecure and End-of-Life applications

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.

Download at: Secunia https://psi.secunia.com/

The Secunia PSI is free for private use.

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Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Freeware, Software, System Security, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools