When you manage systems one of the most critical aspects is keeping applications up to date in order to avoid security problems or to install new features. This isn't a problem for the operating system itself, because Windows informs you when updates are available. But for those many applications you have installed on your PC(s), having a way to keep track of when an update is available would certainly make the administrator's job all that much easier.
One tool is the Secunia Personal Software Inspector. This tool keeps track of all applications installed on your machine and when/if they have updates available. From within a simple GUI window, the administrator/user can click a single button to act upon the latest information. Nearly 100% of the time, these actions will be in the form of an update.
- Supported operating systems: Windows (32 and 64 bit) 7, Vista, XP, 2000
- Privileges: Must have administrative privileges to use
- Connectivity: Must allow access to Secunia servers which are SSL-encrypted as well as access to Microsoft Windows update servers
- Windows update: Must have the most recent updates from Microsoft
- Additional vendor information
Who's it for?
For anyone who has had to (or wanted to) keep up with all application updates on a machine, from a single point of contact, Secunia PSI might be just the tool. This tool allows you to manage a single PC's updates with a simple point and click interface. If, however, you want to be able to manage numerous machines from a single location, you will need to look into Secunia Corporate Software Inspector. The cost of CSI (starting at $2,700.00 annually), however, will bring many users back to PSI.
What problem does it solve?
If you manage PCs you know how critical it is to keep applications updated. But going through and manually checking for updates is a very time-consuming task. Instead of doing this manually, Secunia PSI actually handles this process for you. When application updates are available, the Secunia PSI dashboard will list them and allow you to update them by clicking the update button. This process will then automatically open the applications latest download (from within Internet Explorer) and then allow you to install the update.
- Uses vulnerability Intelligence (by Secunia)
- Update verification
- Quick access to patches
- Covers all MS programs and third-party programs
- Verifies vulnerabilities in applications and plugins
- Multiple user access
- Monitor hosts for insecure installations
- Runs through browser
- Threat level warning
One of the biggest problems with making the decision to install Secunia is deciding if the application is closer to spyware than it is a useful tool. But after scanning PSI with multiple tools I have found it to be fairly safe. The other, bigger issue is that larger companies are not going to be able to justify the extra time system administrators would have to spend going to each machine in order to make sure they are fully updated. One other nitpick I have with the application is that no matter what browser you have set as your default, Secunia will only work through Internet Explorer.
Bottom line for businesses
If you (or your IT administrator) doesn't mind going from machine to machine to ensure applications are up to date, and you like the free price, Secunia PSI might be the most useful update solution you will find. If, however, you (or your IT administrator) feel moving from machine to machine for this task is a waste of time, then you might have to shell out for the corporate version of the tool. Either way, Secunia is an outstanding means to keep all installed applications up to date. With all of your applications up to date, you can at least know that any recent security holes are patched (so long as the applications' developers have patched said holes and released the patches).
Have you encountered or used Secunia Personal Software Inspector? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.