In my previous post I recommended AVG Free as your main anti-virus. But security experts recommend a layered approach to PC security and I agree with them. This is definitely a case of where a little paranoia is a good thing, especially if you are running an older operating system which is no longer being updated with security patches. The lack of support for your operating system makes security even more important than ever.
In addition to having a main anti-virus product, that runs in the background protecting you at all times, you should also have a second product just for scanning individual files as you receive them.
When you download files, they are first scanned automatically by the background scanning of your main anti-virus. When the download is complete, it is a wise idea to scan it again with a second product before opening it.
Who can you trust?
All files you download should be subjected to an extra scan, even ones sent to you by your own mother or boss. Too often, someone ends up with an infected computer that emails out nasty malware to everyone in their address book or starts sending infected files to all contacts in their instant messaging client.
It can happen to anybody. Your mom or boss aren't immune to things like this happening, so don't just trust a file based solely on who sent it to you. And when you tell them about it, make sure they know you are not accusing them. You are merely inquiring and informing. No sense in making someone angry over something they didn't deliberately intend to do.
Is there a free snail friendly scanner I can use for individual file scanning?
Why, of course! This is where BitDefender 8 Free comes in. You can get it for free and install it for on demand and individual file scanning. It will place an option on the right click menu in Explorer. When you want to use it, you just right click the file you want to scan and select the 'BitDefender Antivirus v8' option on the menu.
It is yours free, for one year, after which you will have to contact support by email, to renew your license for another free year. You may renew it as many times as you wish, for free.
Installing and Configuring:
Installing is pretty straight forward and traditional, nothing special to note except that if asked, select to update after installing if you have an active internet connection. If not, then don't select to update or scan after installing.
If you do have an active internet connection and have left the option to update after installing checked, go find something to keep yourself busy because the installing and updating process will take quite awhile.
After installing, do not restart your computer yet. Right click the tray icon for BitDefender 8 and select 'Show'. Go to the status tab and uncheck 'Virus Shield'. This is the background scanner that you don't need and can cause problems with your main anti-virus if left checked.
Go to the 'Settings' tab and uncheck 'Load BitDefender when Windows Starts'. You won't be needing this for on demand and individual file scanning and you will be saving resources by disabling it.
Also uncheck 'Receive Security Notifications'. This is an annoying unnecessary news announcer that will just waste system resources.
Click the 'Apply' button.
Restart your computer.
Updating and Registering:
If you do not have internet access on your PC, please refer to this page for information on downloading and manually updating the anti-virus definition files.
If you do have an active connection available, updates should be automatic and you shouldn't have to do anything else, but it is a good idea to manually force it to check for updates about once a week. Click the icon on your desktop or in the start menu to launch 'BitDefender 8 Standard', then right click the tray icon and select 'Update Now'. Once it is finished updating, right click the tray icon and select 'Exit'. You do not need this running for individual file scanning.
If at any point in time you get popup notifications that your copy of BitDefender is about to expire, contact support and ask for a free key for BitDefender 8 Free.
Now all you have to do is remember to right click and scan any new files you download, as you acquire them.
What to do if BitDefender detects an infected file:
If for any reason some file slips through your main anti-virus undetected and you do get a positive result when scanning with BitDefender 8, your next step should be to verify this as not being a false positive.
VirusTotal is a per file scanner available online for free use. All you have to do is upload the file in question to their site and it will be scanned with 32 different anti-virus products and you will be given the results. They accept files under 10 MB and you can even email the files to them, rather than uploading through your browser. They also have a small tool you can install to place the option in your Send To menu, to send them a file for scanning.
Alternatively, you can also use Jotti's Malware Scan for the same purpose. They use 18 different anti-virus products. The only problem with this site is that their servers are usually pretty overloaded and there can be a rather long waiting period before you can upload.
Safely storing suspicious files:
If BitDefender 8 seems to be the only scanner that thinks the file is infected, I would recommend not opening it. Do not immediately assume it is a false positive. It really could be infected.
If it is an important file and you were expecting it, place it in a safe place where it won't have the chance of being opened by anyone that has access to your PC, and keep it there for at least a week. Copy it to a floppy or burn it to a CD, clearly marking it with the date and as being possibly dangerous and keep it in a locked location. Then remove the original from your PC.
If it seems to be too important to wait a week, contact the person you got the file from and find out exactly what it is and if they really sent it to you, especially if you were not expecting it. Let them know that it was flagged as an infected file and that you do not plan on opening it unless you can be sure that it is clean. Do not take their word for it if they insist that it's clean. They could have an infected PC and not know it.
If the file is still important when the week is up, rescan it with the online scanner to see if the results have changed. It is possible that BitDefender 8 was giving a false positive and the file is perfectly safe, or that the other anti-virus vendors were a little slow in adding detection for that particular malware. By waiting a week and scanning again, you might know which situation has occurred.
Of course if the file isn't important, you could just delete it and not worry about scanning it with the online scanner or holding it for a week. This would probably be the safest way to go. Don't forget to empty your recycle bin!
If the file was sent to you by someone you know, let them know about it so they can scan their PC and make sure that they aren't infected with something nasty.
Final word of advice:
And as always, no antivirus product, no matter how good it is, is a substitute for common sense. Always use your head before downloading or opening files.
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Jotti's Malware Scan
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