There’s a great little, free, online tool to help you make sure that you have updated your programs to the latest, most secure versions. They also offer a free downloadable version with more capabilities, too.
Secunia (http://secunia.com) has an online scanner that inspects your operating system and many common software programs to check for missing security updates and insecure versions. It even checks web browser add-on’s like Adobe Flash Player to make sure you have the most current version.
The free online scanner is called Secunia’s Online Software Inspector. Note that it has its quick scan option as the default and also has a thorough option (put a check in the checkbox).
Secunia Online Software Inspector (OSI) uses Java in order to access and check your computer. If you don’t have Java installed (it’s free and comes from Sun Microsystems), you can download it from www.java.com .
You can use the "Do I have Java?" link at www.java.com to tell you if you have Java and if you have the current version.
I just checked and I didn’t have the latest version. All I needed to do was download the new version and run it. (I chose NOT to install the Yahoo Toolbar. ) Note that the default download is a small installer that will download the remainder of the Jave system as you do the update. Or, you can click on the link "See all Java Downloads Here" to get more options.
One of the additional options is a full download for "off-line" (when you’re not connected to the Internet) installation. If you need to update several computers, the easiest thing is to download this version and put it on a flash drive or an accessible folder on your home network.
In the first image below, we see the heart of the initial Secunia Online Software Inspector. It says that the Java Applet loaded successfully, and that I can click Start to begin. If I want, I need to click the Thorough option first.
I can stop the scan at any time.
The next screen is after the default OSI scan (the quick one, not the thorough scan) has finished. It took less than three minutes.
Unfortunately, I had recently run the OSI scanner, so it didn’t find anything new that needed to be updated.
In the final image, the only change needed to run the thorough system inspection is to put a check its checkbox and to click Start.
If you try the quick version, you should fix the things it finds. Fortunately, Secunia not only identifies the versions that are insecure, it provides links to the current, more secure updates — and even instructions on how to do the updates.
Once you have finished the quick scan and fixed all of the items it found (you’ll be surprised the first few times you run it), you can scan again using the thorough version.
The thorough scan will take a long time to run — you might want to let it scan overnight. I stopped my thorough scan after three hours!
Finally, be sure to sign up for their reminder service. About once a month, I get an email reminding me to run OSI to make sure I have all the updates to Windows, Adobe Reader, and many more applications.