The One Test That Can Expose Your Cybersecurity Weaknesses

by Adeel Younas
How Well Your Cybersecurity Works

In today’s digital age, cybersecurity has become a top priority for businesses of all sizes. Companies invest in expensive security systems and spend countless hours setting them up, but how do they know if they actually work? The truth is many organizations fail to test their systems, leaving them vulnerable to cyber threats. Ever been privy to your company’s disaster recovery plan? Usually, there’s some convoluted chain of command involved, as well as all sorts of passwords, backups, and remote operations. Just as likely is the fact that it will fail miserably the first time it’s activated.

This Test Will Help You Find How Your Cybersecurity Works

That’s the thing about security systems: You can spend a fortune purchasing them and countless hours setting them up, but if you never test them, how do you know they work?

The EICAR Test – How it Works

Researchers at Europe’s Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR) have developed proof that can test the effectiveness of your antivirus software. The test is called the EICAR test and is remarkably simple. It consists of a small text file that is only 128 bytes in size. The file is bundled into an executive extension like .exe, .bin, or bat. When the file is run, it prints the phrase “EICAR-STANDARD-ANTIVIRUS-TEST-FILE!” and stops. If your antivirus software is up to par, it should be able to notify you that the file exists and needs to be dealt with.

The test is easy to perform. Copy and paste the following text into your Notepad or a similar program to get started:


While not every antimalware system will respond to this test, the majority of those for Windows operating systems should be able to detect it.

Combatting Human Error

While the EICAR test is excellent for detecting external threats, it doesn’t account for the internal security threats present daily. According to research, about 90% of problems with cybersecurity and data breaches are due to human error. This includes employees and coworkers sharing credentials, losing them, opening up emails they shouldn’t, and visiting websites loaded with malware. This threat is a lot tougher to test and maintain as it involves the training of your staff and vigilance on their part to ensure that they remain steadfast in their duties.

Data breaches in a business environment are rarely due to some malicious inside actor. Instead, they occur when people share a credential, leave a computer open and unattended, fail to reset their password every 90 days, or make their password easy to guess. While antivirus software is essential, the people behind it are the ones who really need to be involved in protecting valuable digital assets.

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