Security

Ten free security utilities you should already be using

#1: Secunia Personal Software Inspector

Here's a list of ten free security tools you can and should be using to help protect, disinfect and manage your Windows computer.

Number one is the Secunia Personal Software Inspector, quite possibly the most useful and important free application you can have running on your Windows machine.

It can be used to scan all the installed applications on the PC to determine which programs are missing security patches/updates.

The tool works by by examining files on your computer (primarily .exe, .dll, and .ocx files) for meta information on specific software builds installed. After examining all the files on the machine, the collected data is sent to Secunia’s servers and matched against the Secunia File Signatures engine determine the exact applications installed on your system.

It can be used to flag insecure/end-of-life software and find direct download links to missing security updates.

It monitors more than 4,200 desktop applications. More information here.

26 comments
majones1
majones1

Just an FYI - Active Virus Shield is not available from AOhelL anymore.

dpoulton
dpoulton

I installed GMER on my computer running Vista Ultimate and ran it. After closint the program, I received a message that it may not have installed properly, so I accepted the prompt to reinstall, and accepted a User Account Control prompt. A split second later, the computer rebooted spontaneously, and after I logged on, I accessed Event Viewer and found that an 0x00000050 error had been logged (this should have displayed a blue screen of death but it didn't). Has anyone else had this problem?

Professor-X
Professor-X

Excellent Post, very useful. I would like to add IOBit Defrag or Auslogics Disk and Registry Defragmenter, Process Explorer which allows you to see exactly what processes are running on your PC and Spyware Blaster/Spyware Terminator. Advance Windows care - IOBit to sort out general PC issues (i.e. startup, registry etc).

pobstar1
pobstar1

I agree with @mbjoyce plus I don't trust AOL in any way on my PC same with Yahoo and MSN for softwares control. 1:AVG Antivirus (http://www.download-it-free.com/avg/) 2: Adaware Personal (http://www.lavasoftusa.com/) 3: Spybot Search and Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org/) 4 :Hijackthis (http://www.hijackthis.de/en) 5 :CCleaner (http://www.ccleaner.com/) 6 : AVG Antirootkit (http://free.grisoft.com/doc/avg-anti-rootkit-free/lng/us/tpl/v5) 7 :ZoneAlarm Fire Wall, Anti Spyware, Popup blocker, Programs Control, Privacy Adviser (Not Anti-Virus)(http://www.zonealarm.com/store/content/home.jsp) Not Free: 8 : AVG Anti-Virus Professional Edition (http://www6.grisoft.com/doc/products-avg-anti-virus/us/crp/2)

jdumont
jdumont

Think I've wasted enough time on windows and software solutions. All this 'spyware and virus' paranoia is digging into productivity. Better off with *nix and an appliance solution. How about 10 productivity apps we should already be using?

rhomp2002
rhomp2002

The fact that this article is so useful is precisely why I am a Linux user. I found that I spent so much time running all these problem finders plus the defrag that I was losing productivity. Good to help keep your job but a good reason to shift away from Windows IMNSHO.

wyattbest
wyattbest

I wouldn't trust AOL eitehr, but a few months ago I was overcome by the chance to get Kaspersky free, so I went ahead and researched and tried it. It it just Kaspersky with the AOL logo in the corner, literally. I guess AOL is trying to garner some goodwill or something. I have been very happy with it, and would highly recommend it. Just use something like pookmail to get a key (the "catch" is that they want an email to spam), and also turn off the klogon.dll startup entry which puts the ugly little logo in the corner of XP's logon screen.

deepsand
deepsand

The Anti-Spyware, Pop-up Blocker & Cookie Blocker components are far from being "best of breed;" they are: 1) Overly aggressive: 2) Yield too many false positives; 3) Lack sufficient & easily effected granular control; 4) Do not get along well with other security apps; and, 5) Exact a severe performance penalty. Better to use the Firewall component only, and use the other suggested apps for the other functions. Also, note that AdAware is likewise overly-aggressive & yielding of a great number of false positives, and must therefore be used with great care.

robin
robin

Does anyone know what one can do with old Microsoft CDs / DVDs sent to us automatically as part of our OSL agreement? There are the full cross section of 32 and 64 bit versions as well as SP1s SP2s etc... We've become flooded and need to dispose of the out of date ones carefully. What's the best, safest and allowable method? Many thanks.

jgmsys@yahoo.com
jgmsys@yahoo.com

If you happen to be running Webroot SpySweeper, it is apparently incompatible with HauteSecure. I installed the latter on my system, and it caused SpySweeper's resident portion (ssu.exe) to take up all the cpu cycles, rendering it impossible to run anything else.

deepsand
deepsand

But, in the real world, one must adapt to what is in use, or perish. As an anology, though an auto mechanic may have a strong personal preference for a particular make/model/year/etc. vehicle, he must, if he wishes to succeed in his chosen craft, learn to service a wide variety of vehicles.

NetizenX
NetizenX

I personally switched to Linux for my desktop years ago, but I still use Microsoft products on a daily basis because it's my bread and butter. And the faster you resolve the problems, the more you are valued. So you must use the products to become any good with them. Same for any industry.

russgalleywood
russgalleywood

Have just been to the site linked above, the product seems to have has been withdrawn :( (AOL/Kaspersky Antivirus)

Mond0
Mond0

Belarc's EULA specifically prohibits its use in a commercial environment. System Information for Windows (SIW) has no such restriction. It shows as much or more information including serial numbers, product keys, CD keys, etc., but without having to install it. That's right, you can run it from a USB flash drive, from a floppy, from a network drive or from a domain login script! Also, SIW can create a report file in CSV, HTML, TXT or XML and is able to run in batch mode for those of us that need to generate reports. [url=http://www.gtopala.com/][b][u]Check it out![/u][/b][/url]

t0n30
t0n30

I installed HauteSecure and after restarting, my PC became erratic. Boot-up is painfully slow, applications doesn't work anymore, errors keeps popping-up. I have uninstalled it already, yet I am still having problems in my PC. Before the installation, my PC's running smoothly. Now, I may have to re-format it again if these problems doesn't go away. Two-thumbs down. Waste of time only.

techRepublic
techRepublic

I had several browser add-ons installed. After installing Haute Secure I noticed that if IE was full screen and I clicked the X to close the window, my pc hard rebooted. Didn't happen if IE was windowed. Given that the PC was two years old and had recently developed a problem with "Remote Desktops" I elected to reinstall XP. Haven't added Haute back though.

paul_soares
paul_soares

Active Virus Shield by AOL/Kaspersky has been replaced with a McAfee solution.

del_ann
del_ann

AOL stopped offering this some time ago. Your QA program is not working. R/ DER

dickdowning
dickdowning

According to their site the free version besides only giving you the html report it also doesn't give you the license info and won't do the LCD test.

tmsassoc
tmsassoc

"Belarc's EULA specifically prohibits its use in a commercial environment. System Information for Windows (SIW) has no such restriction." Wrong. Both are free for personal use but neither can be used legally in a business environment. Both companies offer commercial licenses and the related programs are more comprehensive. The free version of SIW is HTML report format only. To get the other report formats you must either purchase the Technicians version for $69 (unlimited use and standalone) or the Business version which for businesses starts from a flat rate for small shops under a certain number of computers and evolves to a per computer fee when you pass the defined flat rate number. Full information is readily available on the SIW web site referenced in the previous post.

litzelmh
litzelmh

I installed the Haute Secure and it killed part of the functionality of my Banks online web site. As soon as I unistalled it and rebooted, all was back to normal. I tried just to disable the browser-addon and no help. Only a complete uninstall cured my problems.