- Internet & the Web
Top Free Online Virus And Security Scanning Websites
Most of the internet users rely on anti-virus and firewall tools as primary line of defence against virus threats and malware. However, the growing number of exploits and existence of spyware on computers has shown that these tools are neither effectively used nor updated with latest definitions or properly configured or are inherently weak against the pace with which malware-writers update their infection mechanisms.As a remedy, there are sites over internet that perform online scanning to detect the presence of various types to viruses, malware, spyware and even run browser security tests say checking for known exploits and firewall testing which are not available in traditional anti-virus tools. Lets take a look at a few of such free websites that provide a range of online scanning tools and online security tests.
Symantec is one of the best known ant-virus vendors. To perform online scanning through Symantec, users need to go through an EULA (end-user license agreement) and press Yes to proceed. The site allows selection from two available options - virus scanning or online threats checking. This test supports major Microsoft operating systems (XP, Vista etc.) and Mac OS 8.1 or higher.
A major reason why security compromises are common is that users stick to older versions of software like internet browsers, and do not apply security updates on their systems resulting in system's vulnerability to known exploits which are in fact fixed in later releases. Secunia tackles this issue by scanning a visitor's computer to identify which software needs update or if say Windows has not been updated with all the released security fixes. A few minutes long quick scan should be enough for testing as detailed scan is considerably longer. Ensure that an existing anti-virus is disabled or turned off to speed Secunia scanning.
Virus Total harnesses the power of multiple anti-virus products by checking user-uploaded file against existence of a virus. If you have a suspicious file on your system, try uploading it and check the results. The file will be cleaned of known worms, Trojans and malware. But there is one limitation - the file to be tested must not be more than 10 MB in size.
Panda is another well known name in the anti-virus market. Its online scanning requires registration and confirmation of email address which makes it a bit more time consuming. There is quick scan and a full scan option along with custom scans.
This site checks for online-specific threats. At PC Flank, there are footprinting type tools available to ascertain the level of security of your current operating system, plus the browser configuration. For instance, in browser test, the results would show if there are cookies that ‘have the purpose of directing advertising or finding out your habits while web surfing' or browser revealing a trail of addresses of previously visited sites.
Novice users can start with the basic test called Quick Test and proceed to advanced ones such as Stealth Test to see if popular scanning methods like TCP ping, TCP NULL, TCP FIN, TCP XMAS and UDP scanning affect your system. Most of the firewall security alerts are raised by these types of automated scanning and if your PC is vulnerable, chances are that a remote automated system might attempt to exploit your PC and use it, say for a botnet. This threat from remote scanning arises not only from human hackers running manually scanners but also from malware that scans the internet.
For experienced users, there is an Advanced Port Scanner test to see which ports of the computer are open. This can be done over desired ports, range of ports, known Trojan ports, random ports or all ports. PC Flank tests can reveal the ability of firewalls and routers as well by showing how well they handle exploits denial-of-service and other packets.
It is a fact that most of the notorious worms of recent times are propagated through email. With mail clients offering rich functionality, the chances of exploitation has increased many folds. This online battery of 15 plus advanced tests checks the email systems including versions of MS Outlook - against threats which arise from VBS (Visual Basic Script), Active X, malformed, long filename/extensions and malicious attachments for instance. It requires registration through email after which test emails are sent to the registered email address with instructions to ascertain if a particular test has passed or failed.
Since this service is provided by manufacturer of Windows operating system itself, it can be relied upon to improve performance of Windows systems. It checks for viruses, spyware, and other online vulnerabilities that often plague a Windows machine, and in addition, offers tune-up advice articles and downloads. There is a de-junking tool called clean up centre for cluttered computers because unwanted software remnants always slow down Windows system considerably over a period of time. This free tune-up scan checks if your system needs disk defragmentation.Caution: when using online virus testing sites, ensure that the internet connectivity is fairly fast as otherwise it will take a lot of time, as these tests are bandwidth intensive operations. Also, do not keep important files or any other session open as these tests may unexpectedly close the browser or even crash the system in worst case scenario.