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Secunia PSI

If your computer is filled with a lot of different programs (like mine) chances are that it is a full time job to keep track of all software updates. This leaves your system open to vulnerabilities, which in a worst case scenario will get your system hacked.

Secunia PSI is a vulnerability scanner, which basically means that it scans all programs installed on your computer and updates them. Obviously you will get rid of having to check updates on your own, or even start programs to see if there are any updates available.

In addition to checking for updates Secunia also give you a complete overview of the different vulnerabilities using a graph. The software also rates the seriousness (or threat rating) of the vulnerabilities on your system. If you move the cursor over the threat level indicator Secunia will even suggest what a hacker can do to your system using the insecure program.

A scan for the different programs and vulnerabilities on your system does take some time, on a 1, 86 GHz Intel Core2Duo processor with an 80 GB hard-drive it took about 5 minutes to scan the whole system. Not too bad. The system scanned gets a rating, my system got 71%.

Most of the programs Secunia highlights needed updating, but for some weird reason it marked Firefox 3 as a severe security threat stating that “A hacker can typically use this to gain full control of your PC”. However when I started Firefox and checked for updates there were none to be found. After checking the Mozilla website for the latest version of Firefox it seems as Secunia sometimes give erroneous warnings.

Secunia also highlights the programs on your system that is no longer supported (end-of-life). This means that the program no longer receives security updates. There is also an option called Program Monitoring, which means that Secunia continuously monitors every program installed on the computer and checks of for updates on the fly.

A concern with live monitoring of programs is performance issues. The system does seem a little bit slower when Secunia is running, for a home PC it is however possible to turn Secunia program monitoring off and just run the program once a week. For business computers it is advisable to leave it on.

Secunia is a good piece of software and a must have for security conscious users. It is still a bit rough around the edges, but given that it is free Secunia has infinite value.

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