Two Free VirusTotal Apps Can Help You Catch Malware Preemptively

imageYou’ve run your primary anti-malware application, and up pops a notice advising you that you have an infection. But since you’re an aware computer user, you launch both your secondary malware scanners in sequence and – surprise! According to your secondary scanners you are not infected.

But, you’re aware that anti-malware programs that rely on a definition database to identify malware files, can often be behind the curve in recognizing the newest threats.

So, decision time. Do you then trust your primary anti-malware application and attempt removal, or instead, do you trust the results produced by your secondary scanners, and leave well enough alone?

In reality, you’re not limited to just these two choices. There is another option open to you.

If you’re worried about a specific file, here’s an interesting twist on free Online scanners – you can have any computer file (files are restricted to a maximum of 20 megabytes), scanned for nasties by thirty five plus diverse online scanners; all in one go, through VirusTotal.

To take advantage of this service, simply upload a file that you’re uncertain of to Virus Total, or as an alternative, submit your suspicious file to Virus Total by email. What could be simpler?


File submissions (Last 7 days)

This graph shows the number of files received at VirusTotal over the last 7 days. The image illustrates how many of these were new at VirusTotal, and the submissions which were detected by at least one antivirus. Click on any graphic to expand to original size.


Top 10 file submissions (Yesterday – December 29, 2010)

This table shows the most submitted files yesterday to VirusTotal, the last detection rate, and the number of times they were submitted is specified.


Quick facts:

Free, independent service

Use of multiple antivirus engines

Real-time automatic updates of virus signatures

Detailed results from each antivirus engine

Real time global statistics

Keep in mind, this service is not a substitute for an appropriate local defense system, including a firewall (either software or hardware), and a sound and effective anti-malware application.

Upload your suspicious file/s to: Virus Total



VirusTotal recently released a Firefox only extension – VTzilla. VTzilla has been designed to scan URLs, links, and files (potential downloads) for malware, by employing the installed toolbar, or alternatively, the right click context menu.

Using the toolbar, I’ve plugged in my own site address as an example.


VirusTotal’s report indicates my site is a safe site, and does not contain malware.


Next, I visited and set up a download. Before saving the file however, using the right click context menu again, I had VirusTotal perform a scan.


The result indicates a clean site.


A couple of caveats:

Regular VirusTotal users are aware that file size is restricted to 20 MB or less, and this restriction unfortunately, is still in effect for this new service.

VTzilla is available only as a direct download from the developer’s site at the moment. It should be available from Firefox’s add-on repository, in due course.

Overall, I think this extension has some value. But, it is not a panacea. More and more, if a site is imbedded with malware, just visiting the site can trigger a driveby download. Porn surfers particularly, need to take note of this.

System requirements: Firefox 1.5 – 3+

Download at: the developer’s site.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser add-ons, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Malware Protection, Safe Surfing, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

7 responses to “Two Free VirusTotal Apps Can Help You Catch Malware Preemptively

  1. Jose

    Thanks for the info Bill.

    On a off topic basis (if you permit me)

    Symantec at its best.
    I think that PCTools is doomed, as Sygate was.


    • Hi Jose,

      It could be. We’ll see how this turns out.

      Happy New Year to you, and your family.



    • Mal

      I’m not so sure about that Jose. My copy of Threatfire is still getting updates everyday. Plus that link you posted for the forum is from 2007. Anyway, I really hope that Threatfire doesn’t go under.

      • Mal

        Jose, I stand corrected. The forum post is from this year. But I still think there is a future in Threatfire.

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  3. Dave B

    I use virus total quite a bit, it gives me an idea of how new an infection is on a PC I’m working on, or if it’s an old one that could have been caught if the user hadn’t disabled their AV or turned off the automatic signature updates, helps me explain to them why they were infected. I’ve noticed recently that file I’ve uploaded have only a 20-25% detection rate on virus total, which indicates that the bad guys are hard at work keeping their malware updated to avoid detection by AV apps.