We recently wrote about Winja, a program that uses VirusTotal, an online service for scanning suspicious files to check for viruses, so we decided to take a closer look at this service and see its advantages and disadvantages.
VirusTotal is a Google website where users can upload any file from their computer or enter the URL of any website and check if the file or web address is potentially dangerous or contains viruses, completely free of charge. You can upload files up to 650 MB in size or send them by email to the site, but in this case, the maximum size is 32 MB.
VirusTotal also has applications for Windows 7, 8, 10, Linux, and macOS, which you can download HERE, as well as browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, which you can download HERE. These applications help users to check files easier and faster because they do not have to go to the website but can do so directly from the operating system or from a browser extension.
Why is VirusTotal better than regular antivirus programs?
VirusTotal uses over 70 antivirus programs to check the file and give you the most accurate estimate of whether the file is infected with a virus or not. You would use this service and not a regular antivirus program because these programs may show false positives or may not have added the virus into their database, so they will not recognize it. In the case of VirusTotal, quantity is quality.
VirusTotal forwards scanned file data to companies that develop antivirus programs, helping them improve their products faster and provide better protection for users.
Complaints that VirusTotal helps hackers
Several companies that deal with internet security have expressed their criticism for VirusTotal because, as they say, hacker groups use this service to test their viruses before the attack.
They treat VirusTotal as a debugging tool. If one or more scanners detect a virus, hackers refine their code until it slips under the radar. Said Brandon Dixon, vice president of RiskIQ.
A bit ironic, but in a way also a proof of quality. Google has announced measures that should solve this problem, some of which have already been implemented, and more are on the way.
VirusTotal is a service that gives users the best insight into file security and is completely free. Because it does not work on your computer, but through a website, it eliminates one of the biggest problems of antivirus programs, which is slowing down your computer. If you suspect a file or website, we suggest you check it with VirusTotal.