It is common knowledge than an antivirus program is one of the best ways to keep a device or network security. What is not very well known is that the choice of antivirus has a profound effect on how secure a device will be. It is important to avoid free antivirus programs as they will often consume system resources without adequately protecting your device. They should never be a first or sole line of defense. If you do have an antivirus program installed, make sure to check that it is working correctly.
How To Check an Antivirus Program – The EICAR Test File
The quickest and most standardized way to check your antivirus is using the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR) testing file. The EICAR testing file is a string included in most antivirus programs for testing purposes. The string is meant to act like a virus so that the software will detect it. You can download the file or alternatively you can create one yourself quite easily. Save the following string into a notepad file and save it as EICAR.COM.
When you save the file, it should trigger an alert automatically on your antivirus program. Windows Defender picks up on it within 10 seconds and triggers an alert, and most antivirus kits will automatically quarantine the file.
Other Security Methods
There are other ways to ensure your antivirus is working correctly and to secure your machine. If you have a Windows device, make sure that updates are scheduled. While these updates can be irritating, never switch them off as they contain essential patches. It can also be a good idea to visit the HOSTS file and replace it with the default, as some malware can modify this file.
It is also possible to compare the different types of antivirus software programs online. Many types of antivirus excel in one category and perform poorly in others so it can be a trade-off in many instances. However, there are certainly better and more recognized types of antivirus protection programs. Avast antivirus utilizes little system resources and is very low maintenance, however, it is better at prevention than removal for certain viruses.
A popular combination is to use an antivirus program such as Avast and complement it with MalwareBytes, which is useful for detecting malware. A malware protection tool along with an antivirus program is frequently recommended by security specialists. Windows Defender is another good tool available on Windows 10, but it needs to be complemented with a malware detection tool for complete protection. It should be noted that prevention is always the best defense, and basic online security habits should be adhered to at all times.