How-to: Test Your Anti-Virus Software

H1N1 virus under microscopeHow do you test that your anti-virus software is doing it’s job? Or indeed doing anything at all?

There is a simple test developed by the European Institute of Computer Anti-virus Research (EICAR) and known as the EICAR test. So now you can test the basic (and we mean basic) working of your anti-virus package, on any platform.

Open a plain text editor and copy the following code into a blank document:

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

Save the file with any name you like, but with a .com extension – like myavtest.com

Now run the anti-virus scan on this myavtest.com file.

If your anti-virus is working correctly, then you should get a warning or alert immediately. Your AV software will either want to quarantine or delete it. If you get warning or alert then you either need to re-install your anti-virus package or change it for one that works.

What Goes On
The EICAR test file won’t harm your pc. It contains a test string with a display string which will print on-screen if you run the .com file on its’ own. It was created by the anti-virus industry as a standardized test for A-V developers, not for end users and should not be taken as an effective measure of your software’s capability. The Eicar test file is recognized by all the anti-virus products and they all should block it.

What it will prove is whether your anti-virus program has been infected. If the anti-virus program doesn’t detect the string, then there is a chance a virus has already infiltrated and sabotaged. This doesn’t guarantee that your system is free of viruses, either. AJS

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