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Personal Security Inspector

PSI or Personal Security Inspector is a free download from Secunia. It works pretty much like the Online Inspector, checking your software for known and patched security vulnerabilities and then helping you to patch them from the program's maker. I've been using it for nearly a year and am happy to recommend it to those clients who are interested. They also have a Network Security Inspector, which I tried, but didn't seem ready for prime time. There were too many flaws in it for me to even bother and report them to Secunia.

Why use it?

  • It checks many more programs than the Online Inspector
  • It provides more support installing patches
  • It provides you with quicker feedback when a security flaw is found, by doing a scan of your computer each week.

Why not to use it!

  • It is one more blasted program down there in your toolbar running and possibly screwing up the works. However, it uses very few resources and hasn't caused any significant problems in my tests.

General Rules for Patching Programs

When you find security vulnerabilities that require a patch, it is often best to check for updates from within the program itself. Many programs provide internal updating and that often works better than the general purpose update recommended in Secunia. I've found this particularly  true with Adobe Reader. However this should be done only after Secunia says you need an update since Adobe has a hard time figuring out when it needs to be updated and often says it needs updates that are already installed.

Also, Adobe's flash player is often difficult to uninstall so the you may need their uninstall program which will remove all flash players add-ons (for Firefox, IE and Opera). Note that you'll need to exit all programs that might be using the flash player which could include not just browsers but also some IM clients and SWF projectors. Also, if you are using Internet Exposer, you may need to reboot your computer after uninstalling before you can install the Flash update.

Finally, vulnerable versions of Java must be uninstalled after the new version is installed. Java is not updated, the new version is simply installed. Go to Add⁄Remove programs and uninstall the old version after you have "updated it."

Date: July 2008

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