Advanced Anti-Virus Testing: Free

Our CEO, Pat, just blogged about our anti-virus tool and I thought I might add just a bit more for conversation.   For a long time kept up an anti-virus testing tool on our website.   Because all about email here at, the tool sends an email with a fake virus to an email address that you punch in (and no, we don.t spam you later).

A virus can be pretty tricky.   There are a lot of ways that a virus can disguise itself, and our little tool will let someone test out pretty much every way an email virus might try to sneak through.   We recently added scanning for double-zipped email viruses and viruses inside zip-files that have been .mangled. so that an anti-virus program might skip over the file and not scan.   The current count is 27 tests and I can only see that number getting bigger as virus writers get more inventive.

Why do we give it away?

Obviously, we put the tool up because our email servers catch all these disguises!   Who doesn.t want to look good?   But we get enough hits on the free tool to know that most of the people who use it are testing out their own computer.s anti-virus program or someone else.s mail filters.   Which is a Good Thing.   When there are fewer successful viruses out there everybody wins.   And our mail servers filter not just mail destined to our own users but mail going out from them as well.

What can you do about viruses?

Here are some of my general recommendations about preventing computer viruses:

  1. Get a decent anti-virus program for your computer.  Google for .anti-virus programs. and you.ll find plenty of choices.  Google for .anti-virus reviews. for advice on which program might be right for you.  There are even a couple of good programs out there that are free right now!
  2. Keep your anti-virus program up to date.  New viruses come out all the time and anti-virus programs need updates in order to identify and clean these viruses properly.  We update every day, but most users could get away with updating weekly.
  3. Don.t open attachments you weren.t expecting to receive.
  4. Be careful about where you download files from on the Internet.  Some download sites are very good and do lots of virus checking of their own.  Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks can be especially bad for carrying viruses.
  5. Don.t leave floppies or CD.s with unknown programs on them sitting in your computer when you reboot.  I know this one seems strange, but trust me.
  6. Look for ways to add a 2nd or 3rd layer of anti-virus testing.  In our case, we scan emails for our customers as a way to augment what they should already be doing with a desktop anti-virus program and it saves them inbox space and time to boot.

Want to know more about stopping viruses?  Check out our page of practical advice for business owners and regular computer users alike.  And please go ahead: use the tool to see how your anti-virus programs are working.

Kirk Averett is the senior director of product for Cloud Office at Rackspace.



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