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KlamAV brings Clam Anti-Virus to your KDE desktop


Linux may not be as virus-ready as Windows, but who wants to harbor One of the great success stories of
Open Source software is ClamAV, a sig-
pointless malware? Now you can hunt for viruses with KDE's KlamAV, a nature-based virus filter for mail gate-
ways originated by Tomasz Kojm and
desktop front-end for the ClamAV Open Source virus protection system. now supported by a growing community
and a world-class update infrastructure.
The goal of KlamAV is to bring the su-
perb ClamAV virus detection system to
the KDE desktop.

f you receive email and download grams are still unnecessary, and, in some
files from untrusted sources, your cases, you may run the risk of passing Getting Clam and Klam
computer can end up as a repository them on to Windows colleagues. It KlamAV is starting to appear with some
for malware. Although very few of these makes sense, therefore, to implement of the popular Linux distributions. If
harmful payloads can actually damage a some form of
Linux system, these malevolent pro- virus protection.

Figure 2: Selecting directories for scanning. Note that there are

Figure 1: Arkollon, a graphical installer for Linux, installing KlamAV. scans in progress on the hidden tabs.

32 ISSUE 62 JANUARY 2006 W W W. L I N U X - M A G A Z I N E . C O M


most efforts to scan incoming mail com-

pletely freeze your email client while the
messages are being downloaded. Thanks
to the elegance of the ClamAV architec-
ture, KlamAV offers a component called
klammail to address this problem. klam-
mail is essentially a command-line utility
that accepts email on standard input,
scans it with a ClamAV process running
in the background, and pumps it back
out on standard output. Because the
scanning process is daemonized, there
are no expensive start-up times associ-
ated with using klammail.
If the mail is infected, klammail will
encapsulate the virus in a warning mail
and display a warning dialog. To use this
handy utility, simply select the E-Mail
Protection tab in KlamAV and ask it to
configure your mail client to scan incom-
ing mail. If your mail client is not sup-
ported for automatic configuration, the
KlamAV mail-scanning design supports
Figure 3: While scans are running, you can select other files or folders for scanning from any email client that allows you to ‘pipe’
Konqueror. mail through an external program and
provides instructions to guide you
KlamAV isn’t available with your system, Dazuko in ClamAV, on-access scanning through the simple setup process.
you can install it in a number of ways. is also available to the KlamAV user. Da-
Your first option is the installer available zuko is a kernel module that intercepts Updates
at [1]. Double-clicking on the down- system calls to files and allows external The most important part of managing
loaded file will extract and run Arkol- programs, such as ClamAV, to decide anti-virus protection on your home desk-
lon[2], which will manage the compila- whether access should be granted. It is top is staying up to date. ClamAV pos-
tion and installation of KlamAV. Manual packaged with KlamAV for the sake of sesses an update network that rivals and
installation is also an option if you convenience, although, because not all often exceeds commercial vendors in the
download the source package. ClamAV is kernels are created equal, you may have speed and accuracy of its response to
a prerequisite for first-time installations, to deselect it at installation time and take new virus outbreaks. A recent study by
so be sure to get it first at [3]. the trouble to install it manually. Config- Electric Mail found that, when compared
uration is straightforward and you can with two of the world’s top five commer-
Scanning Files and Folders decide under what conditions the files cial anti-virus solutions, ClamAV was
The Scan tab in the KlamAV main win- will be scanned (e.g., when they’re exe- first to respond 77% of the time for the
dow lets you select the files and folders cuted, opened, closed, read, or written last 50 new virus variants checked! [5]
you wish to scan. All the folders on your to). If you want to use this feature, find KlamAV allows you to turn on perma-
system are available through the Scan the combination that suits you, but be nent access to the superb ClamAV up-
tab. You can select any combination of aware that this is perhaps the most ex- date service with just a couple of clicks.
folders and scan them in a single step. perimental ele-
KlamAV can run multiple scans simulta- ment of ClamAV/
neously. KlamAV, and that
Right-click on a file or folder in Kon- the whole area of
queror to initiate a scan through the on-access scan-
Konqueror context menu. KlamAV will ning in Linux is
open a new scanning tab and continue not yet fully ma-
any current scans uninterrupted. You ture.
can also set the time for any future
scans. Scanning
A popular feature in many commercial Email
anti-virus products is on-access scanning An irritating short-
– the ability to scan files whenever coming on the
they’re accessed by the system. Thanks current Linux
to Dazuko [4] and integrated support for desktop is that Figure 4: Setting up scheduled scans.

W W W. L I N U X - M A G A Z I N E . C O M ISSUE 62 JANUARY 2006 33


all of the files immediately (at which

point you can investigate them farther
under the Quarantine tab) or use the
right-mouse button to select one or more
files for selective research and quaran-
If ClamAV has discovered a version
of Worm.Mytob, you can select Search
Worm.Mytob with VirusPool. This op-
tion will open the Virus Browser tab.
ClamAV’s signature database will ap-
pear, and an embedded browser window
will display information about Mytob
from VirusPool, a nearly comprehensive
online database of known viruses.
While you’re in the virus browser, you
can take the opportunity to research any
of ClamAV’s known viruses using a
Figure 5: KlamAV looks after the updates so you don’t have to. number of online resources. The ability
to research viruses is also available from
To check for updates every half hour, forget to select this option, KlamAV will the quarantine manager, again by right-
simply select the Updates tab, select 48 still warn you if your copy of ClamAV is clicking on the culprit.
times a day, and click on Update Virus out of date and offer to download and
Database Automatically. Now click Up- install the new version. Finally
date and forget everything you’ve just KlamAV is the humble KDE cousin of the
read because you won’t need to do it Virus Found! Don’t Panic! formidable ClamAV virus protection sys-
again. Finding viruses is all very well, but the tem. The KlamAV virus scanner brings
Apart from updates to your signature more challenging task is deciding what the power of ClamAV to your KDE desk-
database, it is also important to keep to do with suspicious files. Virus names top and provides an easy-to-use user in-
your copy of ClamAV up to date. The are less than informative, and everyone terface for scanning files and managing
ClamAV engine contains important de- at some point has found themselves ne- viruses.
tection checks that are continually im- gotiating Google for enlightenment on The future of malware management
proved and updated. When you select names like Gen.1024-PrScr.1. KlamAV at- on the Linux desktop lies in a number of
Update ClamAV automatically in the Up- tempts to integrate this next step in the directions, among them rootkit detec-
dates tab, KlamAV will check for a new discovery process as seamlessly as possi- tion, heuristic analysis, the continued
version of ClamAV every time it starts ble. growth of on-access scanning, and mem-
up. If a new version is found, it will When KlamAV finds a virus, the virus ory-residence detection. These areas will
download the new version for you and is displayed in the main scanning inter- become more important as Linux adop-
even compile and install it. Even if you face. You have the option to quarantine tion grows, and ClamAV certainly pro-
vides a sound foundation towards meet-
ing the evolving needs of the home
Linux user.
If you would like to see KlamAV in ac-
tion, go to the homepage and check out
the video tutorial, or dip straight in and
download the installer at [1]. ■

[1] KlamAV Home Page:
[2] Arkollon (originally part of Apollon):
[3] ClamAV Home Page:
[4] Dazuko is available at
Figure 6: Inspect the signature database with KlamAV’s virus browser.

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