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Computing: Free Virus and Security Resources

Microsoft Windows & Office Security Updates

  • Microsoft's Windows Update will examine your system and help you download the correct security patches for your version of Windows and Office: It also provides driver updates and other downloads.

Other Security Updates

Many commonly-used programs contain faults that may be exploitable by viruses (to execute programs or make changes without your approval). This is not a complete list of every update that is available.

  • WinZip is a popular archive-management program, used to create and open .ZIP files (among others). Previous versions contained faults which might be exploitable by viruses. Be sure you have the latest.

  • Some versions of Apple Quicktime contain security faults. Ensure you have the latest.

    NB: As of 2016, QuickTime is now unsupported on Windows so the only option is to uninstall it completely.

  • Some versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader (aka Adobe Reader) contain security faults. Ensure you have the latest.

Web-Based Virus Scanners

If you think you may be infected with something nasty there are some free web-based virus scanners you can use in an emergency:

Of course, these scanners will only detect viruses once they are in your system so their main use is as an emergency check, and if a virus has damaged your system these online scanners may not function properly anyway.

As always, the best option is to use a locally-installed virus scanner and keep it up to date. A local virus scanner is designed to detect viruses before you are infected.

Client-Side (Realtime) Virus Scanners

Client-Side Virus Removers

Email-Based Virus Scanners

  • Virus Total has a service where you can email or upload a suspicious file to them and they will provide a report on the file using several different virus engines.

Vendor Submissions

To submit suspicious files to vendors, upload it to Virus Total (as above).


Virus Databases

Spyware/Adware Removers

Notification Services

  • A searchable database of security issues in a huge array of products is maintained at

Testing Services

  • Gibson Research (GRC) has a service called ShieldsUp! which tells you which ports on your computer are accessible to others over the internet:, scroll down and click ShieldsUp!

  • GFI has a service which will send you a number of (harmless) emails containing exploits to test how your email system will deal with certain types of attacks:

Cadzow Knowledgebase Articles

The following articles discuss various security issues:

(This article originally appeared in a much shorter form in Cadzow News April 2003. It will be expanded and maintained to provide the latest information on free security resources.)

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