Fast Forward

Fast Forward's Help File

By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, October 12, 2008

Q How can I keep track of the security fixes for all the software that Windows Update doesn't cover, like my Internet plug-ins and media players?

ASecunia, a security developer in Copenhagen, provides a free tool at its Web site that can scan a Windows PC's add-on software for insecure or obsolete versions.

Visit, click to allow this page's Java software to run, and in a minute or so, that page should list applications needing an update with a red X and a link to download their latest release. It will list current applications with a green checkmark.

This online scanner covers about 70 applications. For a more thorough inventory -- or if you have trouble running this tool through your browser -- you can download Secunia's free Personal Software Inspector (, which the company says covers more than 70,000 titles.

When I called to cancel my Fios order after Verizon's contractors made a mess of my lawn, I told the representative I would record the call. He said he wouldn't speak to me and could only have a "security manager" call back -- which has yet to happen.

This seems a somewhat extreme reaction to bad customer service, but I can understand the impulse.

The reader said that as a Virginia resident, he can record a phone call without the other party's consent. He also noted that Verizon already warns callers that it may record their conversations with its reps.

So what went wrong here? Verizon spokesman Harry Mitchell responded in an e-mail that the representative made a mistake. "While our service rep was within his or her rights to decline to be recorded in such a fashion, he or she should have had a supervisor speak with you at that time," he wrote.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 Turn to Thursday's Business section or visit anytime for his Fast Forward column.

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