Here’s quite a remarkable little tool for experienced PC users to add to their arsenal of security weapons. It’s a free application called PeStudio and lets you really take a look at a file before you use it. It’s a way to learn a lot about a program before you install it. With this utility, you can dissect a file in many different ways.
PeStudio is portable and its actions do not change anything on your computer. The file being analyzed is never opened. The developer’s site is at this link. The download is a zipped file of 560 KB. The program has been around for a while and the current version is 8.05. It is said to work in all current versions of Windows. I tried it out in Windows 8, 64-bit. Although the program is portable, it should be unzipped to its own folder since it uses a number of XML files that come with it. The interface is very easy to use, just drag and drop a file on it. The information it provides will probably overwhelm many average PC users so this tool is primarily for those who are technically oriented.
File types that are analyzed include .exe, .dll, .cpl, ocx, .ax, .sys. The categories of information that are given include:
- All libraries that are used by an application
- All functions that are imported by an application
- All functions that are exported by an application
- All functions that are forwarded to other libraries
- Whether Data Execution Prevention (DEP) is used
- Whether Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) is used
- Whether Structured Exception Handling (SEH) is used
PeStudio can also obtain a report about a file from VirusTotal. This feature can be switched on or off using an XML file included with PeStudio.
A download link is on the developer’s site. It is also available at several major download sites.
If you are concerned that this type of tool may have hidden or undesirable functions, you can read the favorable comments at Wilder’s Security Forum. The program’s developer, Marc Ochsenmeier, participates in the forum. Also, the application is listed in Gizmo's main Best Free Security List.
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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.
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