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Too many times we rely on our Anti-Virus/Anti-Spware to just work. We think since we have it installed, that it’s safe and sound. I think we’ve come to find these days, many Anti-Virus applications do a very poor job of protecting you against ad/mal/spyware, even though they claim to do so.
And these days, we rarely see “viruses”. They typically fall into the spyware category. Pop-Ups, porn and fake AV products seem to be the most popular of malicious material presently. While your AV sits in the system tray hanging out and doing absolutely nothing to protect you.
The majority of the time you end up relying on on another product to get the annoyingware off of your machine. So now you’ve got a $60 bloated product eating up resources on your machine and doing absolutely nothing to protect you.
In order to be preventative, it would be nice to maybe give some of these products, which usually have a trial version, a run for their money before making the plunge and purchasing the full product. I’ve found a few tools to give each of these a test run, and see how well they actually are protecting you.
Testing your Anti-Virus
An IT security group based in Europe called Eicar has come with a few different tools to test the effectiveness of your preferred AntiVirus application. There a few individual files to download and run, along with a ZIPPED file that will test your AV software and their ability to scan for viruses deeply embedded into other files. I should point out that Eicar does have a disclaimer:
Important note: EICAR cannot be held responsible when these files or your AV scanner in combination with these files cause any damage to your computer. YOU DOWNLOAD THESE FILES AT YOUR OWN RISK. Download these files only if you are sufficiently secure in the usage of your AV scanner. EICAR cannot and will not provide any help to remove these files from your computer. Please contact the manufacturer/vendor of your AV scanner to seek such help.
So, in other words, unless you have complete trust your in prevention, I would use either a virtual machine or another test machine besides your main system to do this test.
Testing your Anti-Malware
Malware is a whole different ballgame, and is much more common and prevalent in today’s “internet” world. A common, everyday search can easily ring in loads of pop-ups, adware, and deeply buried malware, spying on keystrokes, monitoring cookies and just being down right annoying. The problem is that it’s always evolving, and many protective products can’t always prevent malicious activity. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt to block it.
[NO LONGER WORKS] Spycar attempts to hijack your system, similar to typical malware activity and gives your protection a test. Spycar does not include any “exploits”, so you do have to click OK during the process for the test to take affect. If your preventative software is successful during the process, a built-in TowTruck application responds with a rating on your prevention and then returns your system to it’s original state.
There are several different tests to run through. All attempting to try and take advantage of all the various activity that normal malware would. These tools are fantastic. Especially for a brand new system you may be setting up in a business or enterprise environment.
Although not mandatory on all PCs, having some type of protection on your computer today is almost always a must. The problem that most tech savvy users have with them, is that most, just don’t work and most eat up way to many resources. Having a way to actually test some of the options out there, is a fantastic way to make your final decision. So you try it out…Download the latest AVG, Symantec or NOD32 trial and see which comes out on top with each of these tools.
Have any good sites to audit your pc for free? What sites are guaranteed to attempt to hijack your machine? What anti-malware apps do you use?