How to Check/Scan PDF for Malware? How Do You Know?

It is always a risky business to download or open a file from the internet. The PDF (Portable Document Format) files are not an exception to this. Most users don’t think twice before downloading and opening PDF files. They think that PDF files are harmless. But unfortunately, they can contain malware or virus, which can cause various damage to a device and its user. In this topic, we will discuss PDF malware and its scanning, removing, and protecting processes. So, let’s start;

How to Check PDF for Malware

What is PDF Malware?

PDF malware is a kind of script-based malware that is injected into a PDF file. The malicious PDF file is created, developed, and designed through JavaScript, system commands, hidden objects, and multimedia control. After developing a PDF malware, the hackers or cybercriminals delivered it to the targeted device. Those malicious PDFs are delivered as an attachment to the targeted computer. Whenever the user or admin opens the PDF, the device got infected and turns into a victim of PDF malware. The only drawback of the PDF malware is; it requires opening by the admin or user of the device or system.

Can a PDF Contain Malware or Virus?

As a file format, PDF files are one of the most popular mediums to store and share docs, books, official files, research papers, and many more. It is possible for hackers and cybercriminals to inject malware through the PDF file. Malicious codes/Malware are hidden on the PDF files and whenever the admin or user opens the file, the device gets infected. It is created by developing a malicious script and delivered to the targeted device as an attachment. Also, a user can get infected by the PDF malware, by downloading PDF files from an unsecured domain or website.

How Do I Know if My PDF Has Malware or Virus?

To know whether a PDF is malicious or not, you need to scan the PDF file through online or local security tools. Some online security tools allow you to check PDF files. Tools like Virus Total provides online security features. Also, you can scan any local files (including PDF) and URLs through it. You can also scan PDF files through the local security tools. Third-party antivirus tools and device firewalls can also scan PDF files. You can choose any of the options.

How Can I Scan a PDF for Malware or Virus?

As said before, both online and local security tools can help you to scan any suspicious PDF files. Here is how to scan a suspicious PDF.

To scan a suspicious PDF through the online security tool Virus Total, you need to follow these below-described instructions;

Open your internet browser and navigate to the, and upload your suspicious PDF for scanning it. Remember, Virus Total is completely free to use. To scan a suspicious PDF downloading URL, navigate to the URL tab and insert the URL link to start scanning,

For scanning the suspicious PDF through a local security tool, you need to follow these below-described instructions;

Locate and left-click on the suspicious PDF file and select Scan from the context menu to scan the PDF through the firewall. You need to run a complete scan, which includes all the files and folders of the device. It will completely detect and remove any types of malicious codes of the device or system.

How to Check if a PDF Is Safe to Open?

As mentioned before, you can scan a PDF through online and local security tools. After completing the scanning, you will automatically know whether it is safe to open or not. If you find any embedded malicious files, you need to dislodge or remove them. Dislodging the malicious script from the PDF can make the PDF safe to open in some cases. Though, it is better to remove the malicious PDF files from the device and never try to open them.

How to Remove PDF Malware or Virus from Device?

Online and local security tools can remove PDF malware from an infected device or system. But it is always better to scan and remove the malicious PDF files by using local third-party antivirus or anti-malware tools. These security tools allow you to get advanced leveled protection against most of the security threats of your device, including PDF malware. Also, the device firewall and online security tools are effective to remove PDF malware from an infected device.

[Remember to boot into safe mode with networking before you start scanning and removing process of PDF malware through the third-party security tools]

How Can I Protect My Device from PDF Malware or Virus?

To fully protect your device from PDF and other e-book formatted malware, you need to follow some rules while using the browser and device. By following the below-described steps, you can ensure protection against the PDF malware;

1. Safe Browsing

While browsing, avoid unsecured sites and never download any attachments from any unsecured websites. Because the unsecured websites can deliver or inject malicious code to your device through an attachment. So, you need to be aware while surfing through the internet.

2. Use a Pre-Moderated Online Library

The pre-moderated online libraries require user registration to download and read PDF. These pre-moderated online libraries are safe and secure to read or download. It is recommended to use premium pre-moderated online libraries for ensuring maximum protection against PDF or other e-books formatted malware.

3. Open the PDF Through a Cloud reader

Cloud readers (Google Drive PDF Viewer, WPS, Pocketbook Cloud, etc.) can help you to preview the PDF without opening the PDF on the device. Using the cloud reader can reduce the risk of getting your device infected through PDF malware. 

4. Scan the PDF File Before Opening

Most importantly, you need to scan a PDF file before opening it. If you find any malicious PDF files, you need to remove it without opening it. Though, you can still open an infected PDF file through the cloud readers. But it is always better not to open a malicious PDF file.

5. Never Open or Click Any Links from the PDF

While reading a PDF, you may find links or domain references on the PDF file. Avoid these links as much as possible. If it is necessary to open one of those links, scan the URL before clicking or opening it.

How Could I Check if a PDF is Safe for Downloading?

To check whether the PDF is safe for downloading or not, you need to check the download link through any of the online URL checkers (Virus Total). You should only need to download through a safe and secure download link. Else, your device could get infected by the virus or malware, which is pretty annoying and risky. So, you need to scan the URL before starting downloading PDF; it will help to beat the malicious PDF Files.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are PDF Malware and Script-based Malware the Same?

As you know, both script-based and PDF Malware are created and developed through malicious script code. These codes are written through the programming languages like JavaScript. Though both are mostly similar, they are not the same.

Can A Phone Get Infected by PDF Malware or Virus?

Yes, a phone can get infected by PDF malware or virus. So, you need to be aware to protect your device from PDF malware. It (PDF malware) can get into a phone as an email attachment or download the malware from unsecured domains.

Is it Safe to Open PDF from Email?

No, it is not safe to open PDFs from email or even from the internet browser. But, you can open a PDF file through the cloud readers like Google Drive, and it’s completely safe to open a PDF file through a cloud reader.


Coming here, you already knew enough about the PDF malware and how to remove it from your device. Using a pre-modified online library is always safe to read or download. Also, it keeps you away from malicious PDF files and other e-book files. That’s all for today, remember to scan any files before opening them, have a great day. 

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