TapSoftware Updates

Keeping up to date with software fixes these days can be very difficult; at best it is time consuming. Many applications come with automatic notifiers but often we are not comfortable enabling them and, anyway, they vary in efficiency. Some, for instance, only work from admin accounts; others ought to but instead try to update from limited accounts and fail. Microsoft pioneered this with Windows Update with Automatic Updates and have had a period of mixed success and errors which we hope is now over [update: spoke too soon on this. Reports of problems with this week’s .net patch]. The Anti-Virus people have got it best in hand but even they hiccup when it comes to vulnerabilities internal to their own software.

Today I discovered a very useful facility which does for your whole machine what Microsoft Update does for their products. Secunia Software Inspector is a free service which uses a Java applet to go through your machine looking at the revision levels of software all types and notifies you if there are security updates that you should be installing. I ran it today against a machine that is pretty well maintained (but not by me) and it noticed that Adobe Flash Player and Sun Java JRE were both down level. It even told me about the update to Apple Quicktime which was only announced this week. A company like Secunia is going to be on the ball because it is they who tell the rest of the world what is up, and I trust them more than some because they don’t have a marketing team leaning on them, at least not in the retail business.

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