Tuesday 7 December 2021

Test Your Anti Virus Software

A Quick Way To Test If Your Computers Anti-Virus Software Is Working

By Strictly-Software

This is a quick and quite a simple way of testing if your PC is protected properly from files that may contain viruses or malware. It has apparently been around for a long time but I only stumbled across it tonight and when I tested it against my AV tools I was surprised at the results.

The test is called a Eicar test file is a file, developed by the EICAR organization, that is used in testing anti-virus scanners for their integrity in detecting viruses. The actual file is simply a text file of either 68 or 70 bytes that can be created using any text editing program like Notepad. It is not actually a virus but the characters within the file should flag a hit in most Anti Virus tools making them think it is one.

With so many free anti-malware / virus software out there to use it can be a case that you have multiple apps installed to protect your computer as I have found that some AV products will detect some malware, and others malware that the previous products didn't find.

Therefore I have found that having more than one AV / Anti Malware product on my computer is the best policy just in case something is found by old school virus definitions or by heuristic behaviour detection which other AV products use.

I read something the other day about Bitcoin miners hacking into a quantum computer at some US university to leverage it's super power to mine coins. Obviously their standard AV software didn't detect whatever program was running so they actually came up with a new solution which I really don't understand why home PC users couldn't use as well.

It's a pretty simple concept in that the Quantum Computer just like any computer should only be running certain "allowed" programs.  System programs that operate the machine and then programs that have been installed on the machine by admin. All the new anti-virus tool did was hold a list of every program allowed to run on the machine, and then it would constantly scan the Task Manager or equivalent tool and if it found any program executing that wasn't on the "allowed" list it would terminate the process and quarantine or remove the executable.

To me this sounds like quite a simple solution to malware detection and a lot better than constantly updating AV software with definition lists. How hard would it be to create a program that logged all tasks and services that were OS-based, and then add to this whitelist any programs that were properly installed by an administrator. You could run the setup of this program in safe mode, or on a clean install so that it stored only safe OS programs in it's a whitelist and then when a new program was installed it would be added to the same list.

Then the AV tool would just run alongside your Task Manager looking for any process not in it's white list and flag it when found. The user could then inspect the properties and location of the file and decide whether it was legitimate or illegal and either add it to the white list or have it removed. I might even have a crack at making something like this.

Anyway this is about testing your current system to see if your AV software will detect the following file as malware which it should. I don't know what this does if anything, or whether it just matches a virus definition from some time back but I ran the test earlier and you can see my results below.

Run Your Own Anti Virus Test

1. Open Notepad -> Run -> Notepad

2. Type the following text into the file: 

3. Save the file somewhere on your PC as an executable, e.g. I saved my file in Documents as AVTest.exe

4. If you have multiple AV tools in your context menu. You can right click above the file and test each one to see if they detect the file as malware e.g

5. However if you are on Windows and haven't replaced Windows Defender with a premium AV tool it should always be running and detect threats as they come. It does on my PC despite me having other AV tools. As soon as I save the AVtest.exe file on my machine Windows Defender pops up a message saying it has detected malware on my machine in the top right corner and in the bottom right corner another message tells me that I don't need to do anything as "Detected threats are being cleaned" and within a minute the file disappears from my Documents folder. Therefore if you want to test other AV software you need to have them up and running and ready so you can do a quick single file virus test from your context menu before Windows Defender removes it.

Notice the two Windows Defender messages in the right hand corners of the screen when I save the file.

So I have a variety of AV tools on my system but keep Windows Defender running at all times. These were the results I got from my Context Menu test. Please let me know of any other free AV tools that either detect or DON'T detect this as a virus.

-Windows Defender: It detected the file as a virus as soon as I saved it. Showed me warning messages and said it would be removing it. Within a minute or so the file had gone.
-Malwarebytes Anti-Malware: Running a scan on this file from the context menu it detected it and quarantined it for me but a full scan did not find it.
-Norton PRO: used instead of Windows Defender on my other laptop, BT has changed from McAfee to Norton, and you get a pro version of the AV software for free from BT, I didn't even realise until they told me to update from McAfee to Norton, anyway - DID DETECT AND REMOVE IT a few seconds after I saved the file on my laptop.
-McAfee PRO: used  instead of Windows Defender as my main virus checker - DID NOT DETECT IT AS A VIRUS
-Emsisoft Security Center: - DID NOT DETECT IT AS A VIRUS.
-SuperAntiSpyware (Free Edition): - DID NOT DETECT IT AS A VIRUS

Now I cannot be a 100% sure that the reason that the last two apps did NOT detect it as a virus was that Windows Defender had somehow put a lock on the file so that they could not detect it or something however the free version of Malware Anti-Malware did detect it when running a single file scan from the right-click context menu.

Anyway, this is a good test just to make sure your computer is detecting virus files and it only takes a few minutes to copy that string of letters and place them in a text file, save it, and see which AV tool shoots up a message that a virus has been detected.

It's an old trick so I don't claim to be the first to know about it but I was just surprised at the results, it is always good to know your machine is protected and this is a very simple way without installing an actual virus.

Let me know of any other FREE AV / Anti Malware tools that don't detect it as malware in the comments.

By Strictly-Software

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