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Mar
10
2014

How to check your Antivirus is properly working

Some of the worst viruses to hit Windows – and even a few not-so-bad ones – make every attempt to make cleaning your computer difficult, through methods such as disabling your antivirus, interfering with opening the Security Centre or any cleaning or security tools your computer may be running, and even in some cases modifying your computer's HOSTS file so even going on the internet can either be blocked or have you redirected from real sites to illegitimate ones. This is why it's important to block viruses before they spread.

Most competent anti-malware programs contain real-time protection shields to block viruses and other malware as soon as they crop up; and a fair few even include internet shields to stop downloads and take you away from infected sites that are likely to give you a virus. But what if you're ALREADY compromised? If there's already a virus on your computer that's changing the websites you visit and disabling your antimalware shields, etc. – then you might not even know you're infected and your computer could even be open to further infections, without you knowing they're coming in. Fortunately, there's an easy way to find out if your security is working as expected.

Most companies working in computer security are members of, or are regulated by, various institutes across the globe who want to make sure every threat is being properly dealt with and every anti-malware does a competent job in keeping users safe. In Europe, the main one of these is the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research, or EICAR for short. EICAR do a lot of research into computer viruses; and their research is shared with the makers of anti-malware products to improve detections, identify new viruses and basically keep the security you're using in working order. One of the ways they do these is by releasing test files, which contain specific messages not found in most ordinary programs. The test files are not viruses, but antivirus and antimalware programs are asked to treat them as one; and because the messages are unique to the test file, if the product DOES warn about the test file when it sees one, it's probably a good sign you're properly protected.

You can make one of the EICAR Test Files yourself through a simple text editor like Notepad, allowing you a quick way to test your security is in working order. Just do the following:

  • Launch Notepad on your computer
  • Copy and paste the following line into the Notepad file:

    X5O!P%@AP[4\PZX54(P^)7CC)7}$EICAR-STANDARD-ANTIVIRUS-TEST-FILE!$H+H*
     

  • Save the File. In the Save Dialog, change "Save As Type:" to "All Files". Then save the file with any name ending ".com" – for example eicar.com

If your antivirus is working and capable, during or within a few seconds of the file being saved, your antivirus should block and warn about the new file. You may even be told the file has been automatically deleted or moved to the quarantine / virus chest. Any of these messages is a good sign your antivirus is working.

If your antivirus also includes an on-demand scanner, you can also use this file to test that. First, restore the file from quarantine if your antivirus moved it earlier (check your antivirus product's documentation on how to do this). Then run a scan. If the antivirus product finds an infection in the file you saved using the steps above, you can be assured everything is in proper working order.

If you didn't get warned about the file when you saved it; and it wasn't found in a scan – then it may be time to investigate as your computer may have been compromised and your security is under threat.

The EICAR Test File is a great way to ensure your antivirus' protection and scanning routines are working exactly as they should be, without damaging the security of your computer. And you can easily delete the file once you're done to stop being warned about it again; and re-create it later if you want to test another time.

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    Previous Articles


    May
    20
    2012

    Aomei invite public to test upcoming Partition Assistant v5.0 product – and get a free licence when it launches!

    Last year, exactly a month after Christmas 2010, Technically Motivated got word of a freebie for a then rather obscure partitioning product, Aomei Partition Assistant Professional Edition 3.0. Then, some months ago, we covered its successor, Partition Assistant 4.0, which hit headlines when Aomei claimed it was designed to be "perfectly compatible with Windows 8 first time", despite Windows 8 being pre-beta at this point in time. Aomei's Partition Assistant line has regularly attracted attention for being a frequent giveaway from the company and highly promoted; the software itself being a very competent Partitioning Software with strong resemblance to comparable products from EASEUS; but which performs its job just as adequately – however, its feature-set has lagged behind its competitors and the interfaces are sometimes poorly translated, making its value questionable in comparison.

    Fast forward another few months and the tables are turning. Aomei are soon to release a new, 5.0 version of AOMEI® Partition Assistant (PA5 from here on, for the sake of brevity); and boy, is it hitting back hard! As well as moving, resizing and generally allowing users to manage unused and Windows partitions however they like, PA5 now also handles Linux ext2/3 partitions and can create new ones of these too, finally overcoming one of its key weaknesses in the Partitioning market. More than this, the new software can Migrate an entire operating system from one SSD or HDD to another or even from SSD to HDD, something even Paragon requires specialist software for. The whole list of changes from 4.0 to 5.0, according to Aomei themselves, looks like this:

    PA5 doesn't officially release until Monday, May 28; but to show the company is committed to its customers; and to ensure no unforeseen bugs have slipped in before its release, the company is pre-releasing a test version, titled Aomei Partition Assistant 5.0 Preview, a week early for any member of the public to try out. The idea behind this release is to let people get an idea of what the product will be like before it goes on sale; to discover any unknown bugs; and to hear from potential customers just what they think about the program and if any changes should be made.

    To make the deal even sweeter, anyone who joins in testing the preview and supplies their email on the download page, will be entitled to a FREE full license of the finished version of PA5 Pro, to use on one computer for as long as they like – saving $36 (roughly £22.75) in the process!

    Joining in is easy. Between May 21 and May 28, 2012, just go to http://www.disk-partition.com/specials/papreview.html, look for this banner, and click the big green "Test now" button. Note that the button will not function outside of the testing period:

    Join us to test Partition Assistant V5.0 PREVIEW Now. You will get one Partition Assistant Pro V5.0 License Free  (Test invitation will be started on May 21, and ended on May 28, 2012) - Test Now

    Don't forget to also click the "Submit your email address" link to get your free license!