Kaspersky released a free Linux virus removal tool – but is it necessary?

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No operating system is 100% safe. As long as your computer is connected to a network, there is always the possibility that it can be compromised. These compromises can come by way of viruses, malware, or ransomware, each of which holds a particular danger. 

Such a possibility is why Kaspersky released its Virus Tool for Linux. According to the official announcement the “application can scan system memory, startup objects, boot sectors, and all files in the operating system for known malware. It scans files of all formats — including archived ones.”

Antivirus solutions for the Linux operating system are not plentiful, and for good reason. I’ve been vocal about this topic for years, landing on the side that Linux doesn’t need such solutions.

Also: Do you need antivirus on Linux?

But for those migrating from Windows, antivirus tools are ingrained in the psyche, and using the OS without them may feel like a danger no one should take. On top of that, virus creators are getting more sophisticated to the point where the security of nothing (not even Linux) is certain. Although Linux itself is about as safe an operating system as you’ll ever use, malicious code is finding its way into open-source projects. Should a malicious application make its way to your Linux desktop, there’s no guarantee the operating system alone will be able to prevent bad things from happening.

I decided to kick the tires of Kaspersky’s new tool, with the help of the EICAR malware test files to see if it could catch anything. I saved the files to my home directory and then copied the .txt version of the file to /usr/lib. I also downloaded the EICAR COM and ZIP files (saving them to the same directories).

To my surprise, the Kaspersky tool did not detect any of the EICAR files in my ~/ directory but did catch all files copied to /usr/lib. Once found, it gave me the options to Disinfect, Delete, Copy to Quarantine, or Skip. It then gave me the option to disinfect with or without a reboot. 

Also: The NSA advises you to turn your phone off and back on once a week – here’s why

It didn’t take me long to figure out why the EICAR files in the home directory weren’t found. By default, the Kaspersky tool for Linux doesn’t scan user’s home directories. To make that happen, you have to go to Settings and then add /home as an object.

Once I did that, the app caught the files in my home directory and gave me the same options it did when it discovered them in /usr/lib.

I’m not saying you should shrug off the idea of an antivirus solution for Linux because who knows what the future holds. But that Kaspersky has created a free tool for Linux users shouldn’t be discounted.

You can download the new Kaspersky tool from the official download page. Once you’ve downloaded it, you’ll need to give it executable permissions with the command:

To run the application, you can either right-click the downloaded file and select Run As Program, or issue the command (from within the directory housing the file):

You’ll be asked for your sudo password before the app will run.

If you’re paranoid about viruses on your computer, this is certainly as good an antivirus option as you’ll find for Linux. The one caveat is that the Kaspersky Antivirus for Linux doesn’t work in real-time (you have to run it manually every time). Even so, it’s good to know companies like Kaspersky have Linux’s back.





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