Security Task Manager v1.6

Reviewed by: Jim Huddle CNE MCNE MCSE CBS
Published by: Neuber Software, go to the web site
Requires: Windows 95 through XP, Server 2003; 2MB free hard disk space
MSRP: $29.00

The one thing you can bet on with the applets included in any Windows operating system installation is that someone will create better versions. While not really an applet in the truest sense, running Windows Task Manager is usually a necessity at times to kill a dead program or process, find out what has slowed Windows to a crawl or get information about what's currently running on the computer. Security Task Manager could be considered a better version of Task Manager, but it really stands alone as a related but distinctly different application.

When you run Security Task Manager, you are given an entirely new view of the processes running on your Windows PC. The program shows considerable information in addition to basics such as computer name, CPU load and memory usage. Security Task Manager also shows the locations of running files, the types of files, when each file starts and each file maker's name if it can be located. On top of that, Security Task Manager includes a rating for each running process which shows a graded determination of the risk the process poses. The program uses twenty characteristics of a process to make its risk analysis. Security Task Manager lists processes by order of risk, with high risk items at the top. It also colors the entry lines in varying shades of pink, darker being more dangerous. In the lower section of the program window there are details about the selected process. The left side of the window contains a summary showing the process name, its icon, description, type and the file location. Right of center is a Properties box showing the assigned rating and Security Task Manager's reason for the rating. To the right of that is a “text in file” box which pulls text out of the process file and displays it.


At first glance, dark pink apparent all over the place, it seemed my PC was hopelessly compromised. Once the initial shock wore off I noticed that a number of the pink entries were normal and necessary processes. There's a note under “Risk Rating of processes” in the help file which mentions that “Highly rated programs do not always have to be dangerous. They just have some typical spyware properties." So don't freak out until you actually look at what's been flagged. Security Task Manager allows you to change the risk rating anyway. Under the summary window, locate the Comment title and click where it says “Click here to change the Rating”. You can then click a check box for “don't know or neutral”, “not dangerous” or “dangerous”. You can also insert a comment about the process. Once you hit F5 to refresh the display, the process will show it's new rating.

Another neat set of features are the options available when you right click a process. These include View Folder which opens Windows Explorer to the file's folder. “Google IT”, which opens your browser and takes you to Neuber Software's Known Processes link. From there you can read other users' opinions about the process and add your own opinion, including your risk rating. There is also Comment, which is another way to change the process' rating, "Remove" which will kill the process or move it to the quarantine area and "Properties" which opens the Windows properties dialog.

One final thing Security Task Manager gives you is reporting. It's basic in that it contains the same information as the process list, but it is nicely formatted and can be printed properly or exported as an HTML file. Good app. Recommended.




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