How Vulnerable Are You?

April 23, 2013 by in PC Matic Blog, Press, The Pit Blog

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There is another front on the war against malware and the internet thieves that want to rob us of our money and identities. At this point, most of us have learned to be careful of what files are downloaded on our computer, particularly when visiting unfamiliar web sites. However, the malware men and women have another attack vector to infiltrate our computers. It’s not played up much in the press, but these are called vulnerabilities.

We all like to use free software, but many have security holes. Through these security holes, malware can enter your computer and execute without your knowledge. All one needs to do is visit a compromised web site, and you are infected. You don’t need to click on anything. The virus enters through the security hole and the game is essentially over. There is a chance that your security software’s real time protection might block it, but it is far better to keep the security hole closed.

We have replicated the problem in our labs using outdated versions of Java. We created a dummy page, and once the page was visited, the payload was delivered and executed without user knowledge or action. The reality is that vulnerabilities are the #1 method way that viruses attack computers not user error! There is a small but growing industry where the virus makers can purchase vulnerability kits that allow them to quickly find the holes in a computers free software. The number one vulnerability kit is called the Black Hole Exploit Kit. Note: the virus makers don’t call them vulnerabilities but exploits.

Let me be the first to admit it. I have never bothered to keep my applications up to date. The reason for my reluctance I put squarely on the shoulders of iTunes. iTunes is a software that I rarely use and in the odd event that I do, it, of course, wants to update. The problem is that iTunes wants to download over 100MB and 30 minutes to update. It just doesn’t seem worth it, just to move a few songs around. So I have come into the habit of ignoring all the updates that we receive when running the application and also during boot.

I asked our research to take a peek and the results were stunning. Over 90% of computers had one or more key softwares out of date. I am not trying to be an alarmist here. Not all software vulnerabilities are of the same threat magnitude and some software it could be totally OK to have out of date. But the point is that is a whole, people do not keep their software up to date and sometimes the results can be catastrophic.

vulnerabilities

Based on a study of 159,035 computers scanned in March 2013, 89% of the computers had one or more vulnerabilities or out of date software.

PC Matic Automates Software Updates

Most of the time, we do not make an announcement of a new feature in PC Matic, but this one warrants an announcement. If 90% of the people are not keeping their software up to date, then this is a feature that is very sorely needed in the market place because it will keep us all a little bit more secure.

We built all of the technology in house and I am quite proud of the team that put this together and also the end product that hopefully all of you will love. We have 100% automated the time consuming task of downloading, updating all free applications that may impact the security of your computer. On top of that, it also works with our scheduler so that you can set it to run once a week over night, and never worry about it again.

When you combine this with the Super Shield white list protection and the Viper security engine, we think that not only does PC Matic keep your computer running great, it is also more secure than all the other solutions out there.

I want to thank all of our great and loyal PC Matic customers. We are always working to make our product better and hopefully it shows in this new vulnerability feature. Just to be clear, there is no extra charge for this feature. Just open up PC Matic, and it will automatically add in the vulnerability feature. If you are using our scheduler (and a lot of you are), then the vulnerability protection will be enabled by default If you want to change that, you can edit your scheduled scan in PC Matic. If you are not a paying customer, then just download PC Matic and you will get a free analysis of your vulnerabilities.

12 Responses to How Vulnerable Are You?

  1. Al Weltzheimer says:

    I want to subscribe to PC Matic but first need to know about my system. I have Windows XP and really like it. Will I have to update to W/8.1 or can I still use XP and continue to use all my software and continue to do banking? Thnks,

    Al W.


    • PC Pitstop says:

      @Al Weltzheimer:

      You should be able to continue using Windows XP by taking a few precautions.

      The SuperShield real time protection component of PC Matic will provide security for XP indefinitely, as SuperShield works by stopping malicious executable files.

      The problem is that without Microsoft updates and patches, any future security holes that are discovered will not be patched. However, as long as the attack vector eventually requires the execution of a file to deliver the payload, SuperShield will be able to stop the attack.

      Once you have purchased and installed PC Matic and SuperShield, you can verify if SuperShield is working on your XP computers by right-clicking on the green shield icon in the lower right corner of the Windows desktop screen by the time display and verify that there is a check mark next to the protection level “SuperShield Protection”.


  2. Wim Aleven says:

    Now read this you pc users…!!!


  3. Julian Dees says:

    How much does it cost????????


  4. I'm hoping PC Matic gives this computer of mine a boost. Before I could take a knap
    between screen changes. Fingers are crossed.


  5. Helen says:

    How much does it cost?


  6. does it cost any money to have this?


  7. It is very easy to keep your computer completely updated. Automatic updates from Adobe and other productivity software can be st up, Windows has its' own auto update feature and after market app software like "allmyapps" will let you know when apps need updating and perform the work when manually instructed to do so. Another install of Advanced System Care will scan for and fix Windows vulnerabilities.


  8. John Raynor says:

    You should never update peoples’ software in such a fundamental way without telling them beforehand – you could seriously affect somebody’s computer and/or livelihood by making the computer do indiscriminate updates in the background. The default setting should be “off” for this “vulnerability” feature. Also, did you turn the scheduler back on, because I always keep it “off” and it was “on” today. I always do Windows updates manually when I have done the research, and I use Secunia on manual setting for all other software. I hate my computer deciding to do things all by itself when I want to use all the processing power and internet bandwidth for my own purposes in my own time.


  9. Richard Smith says:

    I usually don’t downlaod updates as soon as they come out. Some companies (including Microsoft) are prone to rush updates out to “save the world” and wind up messing up our computers. How do you plan to avoid giving your customer the “blue window of death” or other intersting anomalies ??

    Sometimes updates/protection is only available when purchasing new software – Office suites/packages for instance. The previous issues are not being updated because newer and better versions are now available. You have access to our credit cards, if we have subscribed to automatic renewal – could that ever be used to purchase need updates to protect us from something we have adjudged not affordable at this time???
    I am a satisfied long time subscriber to PC Matic, but I received no notice of this update and didn’t really notice it until it was updating my non microsoft browser.
    Sort of a shock when I wasn’t prepared and the browser doesn’t work completely on all sites without the help of Internet Explorer’s engine which isn’t available yet.

    Just asking for a little advance warning before you spring something on a customer.


  10. Brad VanHorn says:

    I too hate updating any apple product such as Itunes. For one, when Itunes is updated I have to go get ituneshelper out opf the startup list because it shreds your processor, then get quicktime out of the start up as well.


  11. aa1234aa says:

    The reason why most software is not continually updated is that it would be a full time job. Most users don’t have an IT department to take care of the consequences. Blindly and automatically updating software is a real problem and can do damage to your system by causing incompatibilities, conflicts and changes in configuration. Many calls to the help desk amount to saying “it used to work, but now it doesn’t”. Advice to average users to magically update their computers, especially when some suggest updating device drivers, can be irresponsible. Every download to your computer represents an opportunity for at least trash-ware to be installed and hog your drive and CPU. Besides, there is no guarantee that any update will protect you from malware. Conclusion: if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it. If it ain’t broke, don’t try to mess it up.


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