VirusTotal: A complete guide to protecting your devices against viruses with VirusTotal
Just imagine you received a mail from your bank, informing you that they notice an authorized access to your account and asked you to click a link and fill in some credentials. Seeing mail like this is very common nowadays and virtually all of them are from spammers. So, won’t it be amazing if you can verify and analyze sites like these easily with just two steps? VirusTotal can do exactly this for you and more and it is absolutely free. Read on.
Malware is a common and most dangerous issue with smartphones and computers. You may notice your smartphones downloading apps without your approval, and in some cases slow down the loading speed of your browser. Computer viruses also damage computer programs, corrupt it files, and also decrease it working speed.
If you’re like most people, you tend to download free antivirus applications that are just there to occupy your device memory without any particular usefulness. This led people to buying anti-virus applications or subscribing to it, just to keep their computer viruses at bay.
However, the best way to keep viruses off your smartphone, is not allowing them to enter in the first place. That’s what VirusTotal is here to do for you.
What is VirusTotal?
VirusTotal was created as a website by Hispasec Sistemas, a Spanish security company. It was officially launched in June 2004, and was acquired 8 years later by Google(September, 2012).
VirusTotal analyzes files and URLs using over 70 anti-virus scanners, domain blacklisting services and other tools to help detect malware. You can upload files directly from your PC or simply input a URL to scan against malware and verify against false positives. Your scanned files and URL’s results are then shared between you- the submitter and the security community; who uses these data to improve their systems. In light of this, VirusTotal was selected by PC World as one of the best 100 products of 2007.
The aggregated data used by VirusTotal are collected from various antivirus engines, web scanners, file and URLs analysis tools and other users’ contributions. Scanning of items and URLs initially can only be done on the VirusTotal web page, however, there is now a dedicated VirusTotal mobile app, desktop app, and browser extensions. Among these scanning methods, the web page has the highest scanning priority. You can also script your submissions using HTTP-based public method in any programming language.
Reasons for scanning files and URL’s with VirusTotal
VirusTotal serves many purpose and it is preferred by users among other anti-virus software because of the following:
- It helps to detect malware user systems may have missed when scanning downloaded files. And states whether these malware are harmless, normal or dangerous.
- You can also use VirusTotal to check URLs/domains against false positives.
- It is a freemium tool, although the free version can serve all non-commercial purposes, you may need to upgrade to the premium model for commercial uses.
- VirusTotal updates its malware signature frequently as soon as they are distributed by the anti-virus software companies.
- It also gives detailed results about the scanned files and URLs. For instance, it will show search engine’s detection label(l-worm.Allaple.Gen) for files, and show whether a site is a malware site, phishing site, suspicious site and so on.
How you can make use of this tool
VirusTotal was first created as a website, submitting and scanning of items and URLs/Domains can be done directly from the VirusTotal homepage. To scan files stored on your computer, you will need to choose the file for scanning.
However, the maximum size of files you can scan is 550mb. After choosing the file, you need to confirm the upload and the VirusTotal will start analyzing the file.
VirusTotal Mobile App can be downloaded to a smartphone, and you can scan your local files with the app. However, it’s worth noting that VirusTotal didn’t create the mobile app themselves, it was created by FunnyCat; another software company.
You can download the mobile app to your phone here
Wouldn’t it be nice to check whether a site you’re about to visit on your computer is malware free, a phishing site or malicious site with just a click? Browser extension allows you to do just that. With the browser extension, you can easily analyze a website of malware without navigating to the VirusTotal URL by simply right-clicking on the and checking it against VirusTotal.
You can also use this browser extension to scan a file before you download it on your computer.
Download VirusTotal Browsers Extensions for Chrome in Google Chrome’s Web store
For Mozilla Firefox, you can download the extension here
Download and Install VirusTotal Browser Extension for Internet Explorer
You can also download the VirusTotal Desktop app directly to your computer. However, its availability is limited to the major operating systems: Windows, and Mac OS X,
The windows uploader updates has been discontinued since 2017. You can still download and install the last version of it on your computer.
Click this link to download the Windows Uploader
Once installed, you can send any files to the uploader for scanning. To send the file, just right-click on the file, select SEND TO and then select VirusTotal.
The VirusTotal app will start scanning immediately and it will give you a file report afterwards.
Mac OS Uploader
You can download the Mac OS uploader here
Once downloaded and install, you can select files and scan them through different ways:
1- Select the files from the file menu, on the top right corner
2- Drag and drop the file into the uploader
3- You can also use the send to context when you right-click on the file.
There is an adage that says prevention is better than cure. I guess that’s just what VirusTotal bears in mind when building this anti-virus tool. The best way to keep your smartphones and computer malware free is to check any site you want to visit or any files you want to have on these devices against the VirusTotal. It will analyze them and tells whether they are malware free, or if the malware is normal or harmful. You can download and install the mobile app on your smartphone, the browser extensions to your PC browser, or the desktop app to your computer
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