Give your antivirus software a workout

Via PC Magazine, I found the AMTSO website, which is designed to test your antivirus software for proper operation. I think this is good for two reasons. One, it gives you a chance to see if antivirus software is operating properly. Two, it gives you a chance to see how your browser and antivirus software behave when something bad is going on.

This site uses a harmless executable file that all major antivirus vendors have agreed to recognize as a test case. So you’re not actually doing anything harmful to your computer if it fails the test. But it gives you a chance to see what configuration changes you might need to make–or, worst case, change antivirus software–to keep bad things from happening.

Most security experts today say, repeatedly, that antivirus is broken. But having lived through the days when large organizations might have no antivirus protection at all and seeing those effects and having to clean up afterward, I don’t care if antivirus is only 40% effective–it’s better than nothing. The other thing I wonder is how much of the antivirus problem is caused by misconfiguration, rather than lack of effectiveness.

This site will help us learn. As I have time, I need to play around with configurations, as Microsoft Security Essentials seems to fail at least one of the tests.

But here’s the thing. Even when Microsoft Security Essentials fails, the download process doesn’t behave normally. Learning what this abnormal behavior looks like will help you to develop a healthy suspicion, and to investigate further or call for help when you spot this odd behavior.

Seriously, spend 5-10 minutes clicking around on the AMTSO site. You’ll be glad you did.

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