CyberNotes
Free for all Friday




It’s Free for all Friday, and thanks to a couple of tips from our users, I have a new service for you to try.  It’s called Secunia Software Inspector. Haven’t heard of it? This is one you’ll want to check out! Secunia’s Software Inspector dives into a different aspect of computer security, one that some of you probably don’t think of.  Its job is to detect insecure versions of applications that you may have installed on your computer. It also verifies that all Microsoft patches that are available have been installed.

When you think that your anti-virus is all you need to keep your computer safe, you’ll want to think again. What’s great about Secunia’s Software Inspector is that it’s java based so it just uses your web browser on your Windows PC.  All you have to do to get started is click here. On the website you’ll notice a ‘Start Now’ button.  You simply click Start Now which activates the Java application. From there you’ll click start, and the process is already underway.

So, what types of applications does it check? Well, most of the typical ones that people generally use most often, like Internet browsers, browser plugins, instant messaging clients, email clients, media players, operating systems, etc. The complete list of applications and operating systems is here. On my computer, it checked 9 different applications.  After it has checked, it will display a report.  Out of the 9 applications that it detected on my computer, it found 0 insecure versions (yeah!). This is probably due to the fact that my hard drive was reformatted just a week or two ago, and all of the latest versions of everything were installed.

In the instance that it comes back with applications that are insecure, they let you know which patches or upgrades you’d need on the results page.  The screenshot above shows what my results page looked like, and which applications it checked. It literally takes just a few seconds. The complete inspection on my computer took 16 seconds.

It’s actually kinda scary to think that with one click and only a few seconds later, Secunia was able to get a good list of applications I was using. That means any website could probably do the same thing with one click. And of course if they know what applications I have installed, and the version I have, they should be able to know which ones they can use to exploit things.

According to the Secunia Blog, here are some interesting statistics that they gathered over a week and a half:

  • From over 400,000 detected applications – 35% were tagged as insecure
  • Out of IE6 users, 4.12% were insecure (This shows those Automatic Updates must be doing their job!)
  • Adobe Flash 9.x users – 53% were operating insecure versions
  • 1/3 of Firefox 1.x users were running vulnerable versions
  • 13.04% of Opera users had vulnerable versions of Opera 9x.

With your first run, you’ll probably have at least one application that will need an update to be fully secure.  I think this is a great, FREE service that will just add another layer of security to your computer.  You never know when there are vulnerabilities that others may be able to use to their advantage.  We’ve talked quite a bit about this in the last week (here and here) with all of the potential vulnerabilities in Vista, as well as in web browsers. Computer Security is an important issue, and one that continues to get easier to manage with services like Secunia Software Inspector.

Thanks for the tip Jack of all Trades and ClausValca!