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Detect and install missing updates with SecPod Saner

06 February 2014, Mike Williams

Installing a reliable antivirus package is a key part of maintaining your PC’s security, but there’s more you can do. It’s just as important to ensure you keep up-to-date with the latest software patches, blocking security vulnerabilities before malware can exploit them.

SecPod Saner is a free tool which can help automate this process by scanning applications, highlighting missing security patches, and even downloading and installing them for you.

Setting up the program takes longer than we expected. First, you have to register with your email address; then you’re sent a link to a licence key; you have to download that file to your PC, and import it into SecPod Saner Personal before the program will launch.

Once the initial configuration is done, though, life gets much simpler. Click “Scan” and SecPod Saner examines your installed software, checking for missing updates, and highlighting them in a detailed report. Unlike some similar tools, it doesn’t just say program “x” is outdated; you actually get a list of its known vulnerabilities, with links where you can read more about each one.

The interface isn’t too business-like (check out the worried panda) but it’s very easy to use.

If you’re happy to update everything SecPod Saner has listed, then clicking “Remediate All” will download and launch the latest installer for each program. Or if you need more control, individual “Fix” links allow you to update specific applications only. Any installers you download won’t run silently, at least by default, so you’ll need to step through each setup program as normal.

Useful configuration settings then help to customise how the program works. If you don’t want to update everything manually, for example, you can set up SecPod Saner to run on a schedule, and apply any patches itself.

We tested all this on a Windows 8 system, and ran into one or two problems. For example, the program told us that our Python installation had one vulnerability; we clicked “Fix”, it downloaded and installed the latest version, scanned again… And told us Python still had one vulnerability.

More fundamentally, SecPod Saner is supposed to check for “compliance” issues, poorly configured settings and so on, but it wouldn’t do this for us. Checking the Settings page revealed it had no “definitions”, but we saw no way to resolve that, and the extremely basic documentation didn’t help, either.

Despite this, SecPod Saner generally worked well (especially for version 1.0), correctly picking up our outdated applications, then successfully downloading and installing the necessary fixes. There are wrinkles to be ironed out, but the program has some promise, and we’ll be interested to see how it develops.

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