Secunia Personal Software Inspector

One of the things that I like about Blink is that it has a built in vulnerability assessment tool. However, it reported several false positives on my home machine and the software requires purchase after one year.

Secunia has both commercial tools and free tools that search for software that needs updating on a computer. One of the free versions, for personal use, is called PSI (Personal Software Inspector). PSI doesn’t just look for files that need patching, it is also nice enough to let you know that there is a newer version of installed software and even if software has been EOL’ed (end of life). Of course, the utility has to have information about installed software to keep customers up to date. The application has a “Missing software?” feature so that data about programs can be uploaded to Secunia’s databases.

I’m impressed. Several problems were found on my computer and there was a button for each item that linked to a download to help resolve the issue. By default, PSI only shows “easy to fix” problems but that mode can be turned off. Several other things needed to be fixed and a couple of them were, as indicated, not easy to resolve. For example, after several attempts to update Flash, even after using the utility PSI links to for uninstalling Flash, I had to manually delete some files and then reinstall. Along the way, one of the Flash files that needed deleting was locked and I used handle to find out what program was using it. PSI itself was holding it open, ironically (bug report time).

PSI also gives a button to open up the folder containing the files that need patching. This is handy because on my computer it said that my XML needed updating. At first I thought this to be a false positive but I went through the steps it recommended but the utility still said XML needed patching. There are hints that PSI gives and one of them said to look at the directory where it finds the file(s) in question. The outdated XML binary it found was actually in a directory where I had downloaded and unzipped a program to be installed. Good catch, PSI. Even though that file probably wouldn’t have overwritten the one currently installed, the vendor can now be made aware that the installation bundle needs updating.

I would recommend using Secunia’s PSI on personal computers, unfortunately use on computers owned by “educational institutions”, among others, are not allowed.

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