Tag Archives: Secunia PSI

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

Secunia PSI Updated – Version 2.0 Released

imageSecunia has just released (December 20, 2010), Version 2.0 of their award winning vulnerability and patch scanning free application – Secunia PSI.

As important as it is, that you secure your computer by implementing a layered security approach, it’s equally as important that you keep your installed applications current and up-to-date. Insecure and unpatched applications are a common gateway used by cyber-criminals to infect unaware users’ machines.

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.

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Following the initial scan of two Hard Drives – which took only two and a half minutes, PSI found two end-of-life applications, and one insecure application. The insecure application (VLC Media Player 1.1.14), is currently under attack by cyber-criminals. So, that was a good catch.

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Updating VLC Media Player 1.1.14, was a snap – I simply clicked on “Install Solution”. Boom – done!

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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 you can resolve it.

Improvements in Version 2.0.

  • Automatic Updates: Functionality for Auto Updates is now implemented as a core feature in the Secunia PSI.
  • New User Interface: A new User Interface has been implemented. The design has been updated to make it simpler and easy to use the Secunia PSI, as well as improving the overall look and feel.
  • Integration with Secunia CSI: The new Secunia PSI features integration with the commercial Secunia CSI. Secunia CSI customers can learn more about this feature with the release of the Secunia CSI 4.1.
  • Improved Presentation of Scan Result: The presentation of scan results have been significantly improved, using techniques that have been tested during the Technology Preview. The Scan Results are grouped according to their installation and patch state, which in turn makes it simpler to identify the programs that actually requires the latest security patches.

ZD Net, one of my favorite web sites has stated “Secunia Personal Software Inspector, is 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.

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.

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.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Cloud Computing Applications, Computer Audit Applications, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Malware Protection, Security Rating Applications, Software, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash Player Vulnerabilities Remain Unpatched

image You phone 911 to report an emergency in your home – a fire, burglary, accidental fall; I’ll let you use your imagination to expand on this list. While you’re imagining; imagine this – the 911 operator instructs you not to worry, help will arrive within a week or so.

Computer users running Adobe Flash player (versions 9 and 10), as well as Adobe Reader and Acrobat 9.1.2, are currently subject to attack by cyber-criminals capitalizing on a zero-day vulnerability, and find themselves in an analogous position.

This is an extremely serious vulnerability which could result in a successful takeover of an attack victim’s computer through remote code execution. Like the 911 operator above, Adobe’s response to this vulnerability is, don’t worry we’ll get to you, we’ll fix it – just not now.

According to Adobe:

“We are in the process of developing a fix for the issue, and expect to provide an update for Flash Player v9 and v10 for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux by July 30, 2009 (the date for Flash Player v9 and v10 for Solaris is still pending). We expect to provide an update for Adobe Reader and Acrobat v9.1.2 for Windows, Macintosh and UNIX by July 31, 2009.”

To read the rest of Adobe’s response checkout “Security advisory for Adobe Reader, Acrobat and Flash Player”, at the Adobe site.

If you are like most computer users, you were probably only minimally interested in installing the latest updates of Adobe products since you may not have been aware of the important security patches they contain. In fact, you may not be aware of how important it is to keep all installed applications up to date, and patched.

Save yourself a lot of time and aggravation, and ensure that all your installed applications are always patched and up to date, by installing Secunia PSI, a free application which scans your PC for installed application vulnerabilities. In this case, it would have notified you of the Adobe vulnerabilities.

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Without Secunia PSI installed, you leave yourself open to attacks and exploits that seem to be increasing in frequency.

image Consider this from ZDNet:

Ten free security utilities you should already be using –
Number one is the Secunia Personal Software Inspector, quite possibly the most useful and important free application you can have running on your Windows machine.

For more information on Secunia PSI please read “Play Russian Roulette – Don’t Update Your Applications”, on this site. This review of Secunia PSI includes download links.

In the meantime: Steps you can take while waiting for Adobe to issue these critical patches –

As always, be cautious when browsing untrusted websites

Ensure your AV definitions are current

If you are running FireFox you should be running the NoScript add-on, and you might consider installing and running the Flashblock add-on. Both offer substantial protection. This solution is not perfect however, and you may still be vulnerable.

Run all software as a non-privileged user with minimal access rights.

Frankly, I do not use, nor would I ever use, an Adobe product on any of my systems. These zero day exploits against Adobe products seem to be never ending.

To read a comprehensive technical report on this issue, check out “Heap Spraying with Actionscript – Why turning off Javascript won’t help this time”, on the FireEye Malware Intelligence Lab site.

If you enjoyed this article, 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.

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Filed under Adobe, Application Vulnerabilities, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Internet Safety, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Security Rating Applications, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools