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Signature Testing and Management

Table Of Contents


The tool freshclam is used to download and update ClamAV’s official virus signature databases. While easy to use in its base configuration, freshclam does require a working freshclam.conf configuration file to run (the location of which can be passed in via command line if the default search location does not fit your needs).

Once you have a valid configuration file, you can invoke freshclam with the following command:

$ freshclam

By default, freshclam will then attempt to connect to ClamAV’s virus signature database distribution network. If no databases exist in the directory specified, freshclam will do a fresh download of the requested databases. Otherwise, freshclam will attempt to update existing databases, pairing them against downloaded cdiffs. If a database is found to be corrupted, it is not updated and instead replaced with a fresh download.

Of course, all this behaviour–and more–can be changed to suit your needs by modifying freshclam.conf and/or using various command line options.

You can find more information about freshclam with the commands:

$ man freshclam


$ freshclam --help


ClamAV provides sigtool as a command-line testing tool for assisting users in their efforts creating and working with virus signatures. While sigtool has many uses–including crafting signatures–of particular note, is sigtool’s ability to help users and analysts in determining if a file detected by libclamav’s virus signatures is a false positive.

This can be accomplished by using the command:

$ sigtool --unpack=FILE

Where FILE points to your virus signature databases. Then, once sigtool has finished unpacking the database into the directory from which you ran the command, you can search for the offending signature name (provided either by clamscan scan reports or clamd logs). As an example:

$ grep "Win.Test.EICAR" ./*

Or, do all that in one step with:

$ sigtool --find="Win.Test.EICAR"

This should give you the offending signature(s) in question, which can then be included as part of your false positive report.

To learn more in depth information on how sigtool can be used to help create virus signatures and work with malicious (and non-malicious) files please reference the many online tutorials on the topic.

Otherwise, information on available sigtool functions can be easily referenced with:

$ sigtool --help


$ man sigtool


clambc is Clam Anti-Virus’ bytecode signature testing tool. It can be used to test newly crafted bytecode signatures or to help verify existing bytecode is executing against a sample as expected.

For more detailed help, please use:

$ man clambc


$ clambc --help