By Chris Hoffman, HowToGeek.com

So you have an antivirus guarding your system, your firewall is up, your browser plug-ins are all up-to-date, and you’re not missing any security patches.

But how can be sure your defenses are actually working as well as you think they are?

These tools can also be particularly useful if you’re trying to quickly determine how secure someone else’s PC is. They can show you just how much vulnerable software the PC has installed.

Test Your Antivirus

No, we’re not going to recommend downloading a virus to test your antivirus program – that’s a recipe for disaster. If you ever want to test your antivirus software, you can use the EICAR test file. The EICAR test file isn’t an actual virus – it’s just a text file containing a string of harmless code that prints the text “EICAR-STANDARD-ANTIVIRUS-TEST-FILE!” if you run it in DOS. However, antivirus programs are all trained to recognize the EICAR file as a virus and respond to it just as they would respond to an actual virus.

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