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Secunia PSI

By . Last modified: 2014-08-14.

How to detect and update vulnerable and end-of-life programs using Secunia PSI in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1

While Windows Update keeps most of Microsoft's software up-to-date and patched, many other vendors do not have very good automatic updating capabilities for their programs. This means that, for example, unpatched versions of Java Runtime Environment or Adobe Flash Player might leave your Windows computer open to attacks from the Internet.

Luckily, there is a good solution for it - Secunia's Personal Software Inspector (PSI, for short). This really cool and free program from Denmark scans for vulnerabilities in Microsoft and non-Microsoft software and is able to patch most well-known programs automatically.
Version 3 of PSI is much simplified to avoid user confusion, yet smart enough not to whine about unnecessary items (such as program installers and programs not in use by Windows) anymore.

You can always see if your computer is up-to-date by checking PSI icon in Taskbar Notification Area - if the icon is green, everything is ok; yellow/orange means that a few programs are unpatched or out of date; red means that attention and manual update is required.
Windows 7, Secunia PSI icon in Taskbar Notification Area. Green color means that programs are up to date. Windows XP, Secunia PSI icon in Taskbar Notification Area. Red color means that programs require updating or manual updates are necessary.

To open Secunia PSI, right-click its icon in Taskbar Notification Area (aka System Tray) and click Open Secunia PSI. Please note that clicking or double-clicking the icon has no effect. In Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1 this will wake the most beloved User Account Control, so click Continue or Yes.
Secunia PSI icon in Taskbar Notification Area. Right-click the icon and then click 'Open Secunia PSI'.

Please don't forget to check out Microsoft EMET, free protection from zero-day flaws.

Downloading and installing Secunia Personal Software Inspector

Go to PSI download page and click the green Download button on the right.
If you have issues in Windows 8.1 or Internet Explorer 11, make sure PSI version is at least 3.0.0.9015.
Secunia PSI download page, click the green Download button.

After downloading and launching the setup file, PSI Setup Wizard starts with asking for installation language. Leave it to English and click OK.
Secunia PSI 3 Installer, Please select a language. Click OK to use English.

Next, the usual Welcome window appears. Click Next.
Secunia PSI 3 Setup Wizard, Welcome screen. Click Next.

In case you are upgrading from an older version of Secunia PSI, you will see the following uninstallation dialogs.
Click Next here. The setup of newer version will continue automatically after the older version has been removed.
Secunia PSI Setup Wizard, Uninstall Previous Version. Click Next to uninstall older version of PSI.

Secunia PSI Uninstall Wizard appears, click Next.
Secunia PSI Uninstall Wizard, Welcome. Click Next.

Click Uninstall.
Secunia PSI Uninstall Wizard, folder. Click Uninstall.

After the uninstallation is complete, a survey might open in your default Internet browser. Click Exit this survey on the right side.
Secunia PSI Uninstall Wizard, survey. Click 'Exit this survey'.

Back in the PSI Uninstall Wizard, click Finish.
Secunia PSI Uninstall Wizard, Completing. Click Finish.

Check the I accept the terms of the License Agreement box and click the ever-wonderful Next button.
Secunia PSI 3 Setup Wizard, License Agreement. Click I accept the terms of the License Agreement. Then click Next.

As Secunia PSI is able to update and patch many programs automatically, it is very recommended to leave the Update programs automatically (recommended) option in the Automatic Update Configuration window checked. This will make your life a lot easier by taking care of all the hard work related to patching and updating.
Click Next.
Secunia PSI 3 Setup Wizard, Automatic Update Configuration. Leave 'Update programs automatically (recommended)' option selected. Then click Next.

After installation is complete, click the Finish button.
Secunia PSI 3 Setup Wizard, complete. Click Finish.

PSI Setup asks you if you want to launch the program now. Click Yes.
Secunia PSI 3 Setup complete, launch PSI by clicking Yes.

In some cases, PSI 3 displays the "Unable to retrieve PSI user ID from Secunia" error upon first launch. The easiest way to work around this is to simply restart your computer.
Secunia PSI 3, Unable to retrieve PSI user ID from Secunia. Restart your computer.

Running Secunia Personal Software Inspector scan for the first time

Secunia PSI 3 offers to start a scan. Click the Scan now button.
Secunia PSI 3, Please run a scan. Click Scan now.

If Microsoft Update has not been installed, Secunia PSI will warn that some missing updates cannot be detected without it. Click the Install Microsoft Update button and follow instructions. You might also want to see the Configure Windows Update tutorial.
Secunia PSI 3, Microsoft Update is not installed. Click 'Install Microsoft Update'.

Scanning takes some time, depending on how many programs you have installed on your computer - about 3-10 minutes is common.
Secunia PSI 3, Scanning for outdated programs. Stand by.

If you have no out-of-date or unpatched programs, you will see the green check mark after the scan. You can click Show programs to view all applications Secunia PSI found, or you can just close the window.
In case something vulnerable or end-of-life was detected, the list is displayed in the Programs that need updating section. All items that have the "Click to update" link, need your interaction.
Secunia PSI 3 scan complete, all your programs are up-to-date. Secunia PSI 3 scan complete, programs that need updating. If the 'Click to update' link is displayed, the program must be updated manually.

In most cases, the manual update opens Windows Update or a download link to the update. Other out-of-date programs will be patched immediately (this takes some time, please be patient).

Some programs might require selecting language first. Click the Select language link.
Then use the Please select the language to use for the update combo box to specify the correct localization and click the Select language button.
Secunia PSI 3 scan complete, program needs language selection. Click Select language. Secunia PSI 3, Select a language. Specify correct language and click Select language.

If you want to manually run a scan in the future, click Scan again in the bottom left of Secunia PSI window.
Secunia PSI 3. To recheck for outdated or vulnerable programs, click Scan again.

Configuring Secunia PSI

Since version 3 of PSI, settings have been drastically simplified to enhance user experience. The Settings button in the bottom of PSI window has just four options:

  • Detailed view - this is meant for specialists who need more details on program versions and criticality levels.
  • Start on boot - this makes Secunia PSI run automatically in the background after Windows starts. Keep this one turned on to enable automatic scans.
  • Update handling - keep the Update (recommended) option checked to patch and update programs automatically.
  • Scan individual drives - system drive (the one where Windows is installed) is always scanned automatically. If you have a separate drive or partition for programs, stop mouse pointer on the option for a while until a list of drives appears (this might take several seconds). Then enable or disable the scanning of additional drives. Please note that this list includes hard drives only, removable drives are not shown here.

Secunia PSI 3, Settings, Update handling. Leave the 'Update (recommended)' option selected. Secunia PSI 3, Settings, Scan individual drives. If programs are installed on other drives than system drive C:, select these here.

Here's how Secunia PSI 3 looks in Detailed view:
Secunia PSI 3, Detailed View with Version numbers and Criticality levels.

Ignoring programs in Secunia PSI

In case you want to keep a specific version of a program, or you encounter a rare case where PSI is wrong, right-click the software you want to keep outdated or end-of-life and click Ignore updates to this program.
Secunia PSI 3. To reject automatic updates for a program, right-click it and select 'Ignore updates to this program'.

This will create a new section in the bottom of Secunia PSI window - Programs that do not receive updates.
You can easily remove any program from this section by right-clicking it and selecting Don't ignore updates to this program from the menu.
Secunia PSI 3. To restore automatic updates for a program, right-click it and select 'Don't ignore updates to this program'.

You can also check in which folder the detected program is by right-clicking it and selecting Show details.
Secunia PSI 3. To check where a program is installed, right-click it and select 'Show details'.

The List of installed versions window shows all detected locations. Double-click it to open the folder in Windows/File Explorer.
Secunia PSI 3, List of installed versions. Double-click a location to open the folder in Windows Explorer.

 

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