Does Your Antivirus Software Work? – How To Test it Securely

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In a world bombarded with malware threats, you never know what’s lurking around the corner. Viruses are always looking for an opportunity for finding a way into your computer system. Any security-savvy person should have some sort antivirus software installed on his/her system; not limited to personal computers and smartphones. Well-known antivirus vendors include Kaspersky, Symantec (Norton), McAfee. The choice of antivirus software in use will go a long way to provide a more secure experience.

You may have an antivirus program installed but how do you know whether it is definitely active? Needless to say, it’ll be a bad idea to test it out using actual malware. Reason why researchers at the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR) came up with the EICAR Anti-virus test. It is a proven way to test the response of AV programs, without risking the system with real malware.

Doing the test

The EICAR test consists of a text file between 68 and 128 bytes. It can be bundled into a program which is executable by using specific file extensions (.exe, .bat, .bin). After execution, the EICAR test file will print “EICAR-STANDARD-ANTIVIRUS-TEST-FILE!” before stopping. If your anti-virus is effective, it should be able to alert to the presence of this file.

Open a simple editor (notepad will work just fine) and write following string of text:

The above text is the test string. To avoid any errors which may come out of typing it down, simply copy and paste. Then save the file with an appropriate executable file extension. You can simply call it eicar.exe

I use Avast Free Antivirus, and I was amazed at how quickly the alert came up. I didn’t need to run the executable file. Soon after saving it, the “threat detected” warning popped up. Well, it did work.

Note

Not all antivirus software will respond to this test. But that doesn’t make them any less secure/efficient. Malwarebytes (An American security company) developers have not added the EICAR test file to their database, on grounds that “adding fake malware and test files like EICAR to the database takes time away from malware research, and proves nothing in the long run.”

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Enjeck Mbeh Cleopatra

STEM enthusiast. Reader. Writer. Food lover. Programmer. Mad Scientist. Internet addict. Contact me at [email protected]

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Enjeck Mbeh Cleopatra

STEM enthusiast. Reader. Writer. Food lover. Programmer. Mad Scientist. Internet addict. Contact me at [email protected]

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