How To Reduce Vulnerabilities On Your System With Secunia PSI

Having programs on your computer that are out of date is a big security no-no.

Hackers can exploit software that is insecure and wreak havoc with your machine. But how do you know if you have software on your hard drive that is out of date, no longer supported or missing the latest patch? Typically, the answer to that is not easily. Manually searching for programs that need updating or completely removing would be a long and arduous task. That is where Secunia PSI comes in.

This handy program, also known as Secunia Personal Inspector 2.0, can automatically scan your programs and plug-ins and find which need updating. You can then either download those updates automatically or simply receive notifications as and when an update is required.

PSI dashboard

You can download Secunia PSI through the link above and then install it onto your computer like I have. To make it interesting, I put the program onto an older laptop I have that is never usually connected to the internet. As such, I knew that there should be some issues detected.

Once you have the program installed you want to expand the  ‘Patch Your PC’ menu at the top left of the screen. You will then be presented with 3 options and you want to select the one that says ‘Scan’ which will lead you to the screen below –

PSI scan

Next up you need to click on ‘Start Scan’ which is over on the right hand side, as indicated by my poorly drawn circle in the image above. This will lead to an 8 step scan of your system which will ultimately identify any issues with the programs on your computer and generate a ‘Secunia System Score’ which, as you might imagine, wants to be 100%!

As predicted, my score was less than perfect, which is rather handy as it means I still have more to say…

PSI settings

Before continuing it is worth noting the ‘Configuration’ menu which you can see above. If you click on ‘Settings’ then you can play around with a few different options, the most important of which is probably whether or not you want PSI to automatically update programs or wait for your nod of approval. Enabling program monitoring is also useful as it will allow new programs to be monitored without you having to continually run full scans.

PSI solutions

Now, if we go back to my scan as an example, we can see some more detail of what happens when problems are identified. Under the ‘Patch Your PC’ menu choose the ‘Scan Results’ option which you will note shows that 9 issues were found on my computer. The first one on the list can be seen above – Adobe Shockwave Player was out of date. Each issue that has been identified has a little ‘+’ next to it. Clicking on that opens up a descriptive box such as the one you can see in the screenshot above.

In my case, Shockwave 10.x was deceased and PSI suggested updating to version 11.x which I duly did. I then went through all the other issues that had been identified and did the same until my ‘Secunia System Score’ ultimately reached 100%. This, of course, is what you should do too on your own computer.

PSI community

If you get stuck at all whilst using the Secunia PSI program itself, or have trouble with suggested updates, then you can find the Secunia community through the ‘Configuration’ menu. From here you can create your own profile and then join the forum where you will likely get the answers to any questions you may have.

There is more to this program than I have mentioned in this brief look at PSI but those are the main points. Its a handy little application to have and, whilst I was expecting issues to be identified on my computer, I wasn’t expecting all of them so it was definitely worthwhile using the program.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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