I wrote a few months ago about the difficulty of dealing with the endless flood of software updates that is slowly draining our will to live. Microsoft’s system of delivering automatic overnight upgrades once a month is manageable, but the bad guys are now changing their focus to other programs. Important security-related updates appear regularly for Acrobat, Flash, Quicktime, Firefox, Safari, Java, and more. There are real bad guys with real exploits waiting for you to hit their web site without one of those patches, ready to compromise your computer and, I don’t know, unleash beings from another dimension or something, who knows what those guys want?

It’s hard to keep up.

The free Secunia Online Software Inspector appears to be a useful tool! It quickly scans your computer and reports if you have the latest updates for Windows and the programs most likely to expose you to online dangers. If you’re behind, it provides a link to the site where the most recent update can be downloaded.

As near as I can tell, it’s safe to run. I don’t see any feedback online suggesting that it is anything other than a useful public service. The company also offers a free installable bit of software that does a more comprehensive look at your system, but that violates my guiding philosophy of installing as few extra utilities as possible.

I don’t know if you ought to get all obsessive over this (keeping up with updates can be an incredible timesink), but this will be a good site to visit if you see something in the news about a new exploit, or every month or two when you’re bored. It’s on my Favorites page (your home page, right?) under Computers / Online Virus Scans.

Stay safe out there!

[Thanks to friend and colleague Brian Dent for pointing out Secunia!]

[Technical note: it’s important to update to the latest version of Adobe Flash, version For some people (including me), Secunia continues to report that the computer is insecure because a Flash DLL is out of date, even after version is installed. Life is too short. Close the window and pretend you didn’t see it.]

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