Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Test Your Virus Scanner With EICAR

This would be a great time for me to say this is At Your Own Risk, and I'm offering no support if your scanner does not work... You're on your own pal!   

This "virus" simply displays a text string and sends control back to the operating system.

Have you ever wondered if your virus scanner actually works?

I don't mean surfing one of "Those" Sites with a .RU at the end of the address.  This actually downloads a "harmless" virus that won't trash your computer.

In the case of this machine I'm writing on, the EICAR Test Virus downloaded and Microsoft Security Essentials brought up an ugly red box warning me that it had been quarantined and I'm safe.

The reality of this is that had I downloaded a different virus that wasn't in my "signature file", I would never know but that is the essential problem with any antivirus product.  They are only as good as the company that backs them, and how good the team is behind the product.

So make sure you know how to update your virus scanner - for Microsoft Security Essentials, the signature files come through Windows Update or clicking on the little circus tent in your task bar.  Other virus scanners will vary.

Update your virus scanner to current, which is a good thing no matter which virus scanner you use, or how often you tell the computer to check.

Then follow this link to the EICAR download page.
EICAR is the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research.
You can read more about their mission in the wikipedia page if you want a shorter description.
A short description of the virus test file is at this wikipedia page as well.

Click on the appropriate download for the virus.

Wait for it to download and watch the fun begin when your virus scanner hopefully picks this up and tells you it has been quarantined.

When you're through having fun, find the quarantine section and you can tell your antivirus product to remove the Test Virus.  Since there are so many different antivirus programs, you are on your own there.

If your antivirus program did not detect the EICAR virus I would strongly recommend getting a new antivirus.   Like I said, Microsoft Security Essentials worked like a champ and you can get their antivirus at this link for Windows 7 and earlier - it's built in on Windows 8.

The video I embedded shows what it looks like with Kaspersky Anti Virus.   It's a silent video except when the virus is caught.  It makes a Pig Squeal sound which was a bit jarring, so put your volume down to medium and it won't be a shock.

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