As any reader of this blog should be well aware, any significant piece of software has bugs and security holes, which (hopefully) are fixed over time. Keeping your software up-to-date is an important piece of your security.
So, with dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of applications, browser plugins, and so on, not to mention all of the pieces of Windows itself, how can you be sure that everything is up to date? Sure, Windows itself can be set to automatically download and install updates, and many programs have the option to check for updates as well. But, wouldn’t it be easier to have a “one stop shopping” place to check?
Enter Secunia Personal Software Inspector (“Secunia PSI”).
Secunia PSI is a free (for personal use) utility which examines your system for programs which are out of date, and supplies you with links to download the latest versions of any such programs. As the Secunia web page says:
The Secunia PSI is a FREE security tool designed to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs and plug-ins which expose your PC to attacks. Attacks exploiting vulnerable programs and plug-ins are rarely blocked by traditional anti-virus and are therefore increasingly “popular” among criminals.
To get it, simply download the installer from the Secunia website and run the installer.
When run, you have the option of using “simple” or “advanced” interface mode. I recommend (and still use) the “simple” mode. Just click the “start scan” button (assuming it didn’t start automatically), and a few minutes later, you will see the results.
Here is a sample result from one of our computers here (click image to enlarge):
Note the list of “threats” that it has detected due to unpatched programs installed on the system. If you hover over the program name, it will show you the location of the file:
This is useful on systems which may have multiple copies of programs. On one of my systems, the search results were very confusing to me for a while, as it kept insisting that I had an old Adobe Reader installed, despite the fact that Adobe Reader itself told me it was the latest version. Even running the installer, as supplied by Secunia PSI’s results list told me I already had that version installed. It turned out that it had detected an older version within a backup of a client’s system that was stored on the drive. Hovering over the program name showed me the location, and solved the “mystery”.
Next, hovering over the “threat rating” for the program will give you a brief description of the threat, and the opportunity to click on the link to get more details.
Finally, click on the download icon in the “solution” column, and you will be prompted to run or save the update. Note that the download is directly from the manufacturer’s website, and not some mirror run by Secunia. (This should be shown in the run/save dialog that Windows displays.) This ensures that it is the correct install program.
Once you have installed all of the updates, another scan should show a “clean” system. Note that it states that there are programs which might be a problem, but can’t be fixed in the “simple” interface mode. In my case, most are either from customer backups (as confirmed by hovering over the program name to see the path), or from pieces left over when a program was updated, but weren’t removed by the update. You need to switch to the “advanced” interface mode to get the details.
Will this find every unpatched program/file that you have on your system? Probably not. But, it does appear to have an extensive list of applications that it knows about. (Their website claims they handle “programs from thousands of vendors”.)