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28 May 2009, 16:32

Secunia PSI makes recommendations on safe browsing

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Version, now in beta, of the Secunia software update tool – Personal Software Inspector (PSI), not only checks installed software for updates, but even advises users against using specific browsers. The "Not safe for browsing" evaluation is displayed for browsers when browsers or browser add-ons containing known serious security vulnerabilities are installed.

                             Secunia PSI
Zoom Secunia PSI

Nearly every PC contains outdated software which can compromise system security. Applications which are activated when surfing the web are especially critical, as they can be attacked directly by nefarious or compromised websites. Microsoft Update automatically searches for security updates, but only for Microsoft software. As a result, it's not uncommon for installed versions of Adobe Reader, Flash and Java to be outdated. A recent feature on The H Security, My wish list for Windows 7: updates for everything, discusses this problem.

Secunia's Personal Software Inspector (PSI) takes an alternative approach to that suggested in the feature article. It checks the user's system and compares the software present against a database of known security problems. It then tells the user how the problems detected can be resolved. In return users accept that information on the software installed will be forwarded to Secunia.

Initial tests of the new 'Secure browsing' function in the latest beta version revealed a few hiccups. For example, it completely failed to detect that Firefox 1.0.6 was installed. Its assessment of the Internet Explorer version installed depended on whether an extended option for PSI to include security problems which are not simple to resolve was activated. Under the default settings, PSI does not show such problems and also appears to exclude them from its assessment. This may lead to a misleading assessment of the security of a system or the software on it.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector runs on –

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 - Service Pack 4
  • Microsoft Windows 2003
  • Microsoft Windows XP - Service Pack 2 or later
  • Microsoft Windows Vista

Only US and European languages are supported and the latest version of Microsoft Windows Update Agent must be installed.

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