Security Laboratory

Security Laboratory

Tools for Securing Your Computer Against Software Vulnerabilities

By Stephen Northcutt

Two tools that can help the average home user secure their endpoint system are the Microsoft OneCare Safety Scanner and Secunia PSI. Both are free, powerful and effective tools designed with the sole purpose of helping you secure your computer from software vulnerabilities. Software vulnerabilities affect all applications installed on your computer, from the Operating System down to your email client, office applications, instant messaging, and so on. Using these tools can help you protect yourself from software vulnerabilities. One key to Internet safety is to keep your software updated. The only real solution, to avoid becoming a victim of a hacker exploiting software vulnerabilities, is to install the latest security updates that the software vendors release. In other words, make sure that you always have the latest secure versions of the software that you have installed on your computer. Software vendors fix software vulnerabilities and release new versions of their products to protect you on a regular basis. Microsoft's scanner does a good job of checking out your system, but it doesn't evaluate whether the third party software like Real Audio or Adobe Acrobat Reader are up to date. But, PSI does.

To help you secure your computer from software vulnerabilities, those of us at the SANS Technology Institute Security Lab recommend you download the FREE (for personal use) Secunia PSI today; it will scan your computer for installed software and determine if any applications lack security updates. Secunia also has a commercial product for companies, NSI.

Links valid as of July 31, 2008