Antivirus on a Raspberry Pi with ClamAV?

ClamAV is an open-source and free antivirus engine for detecting trojans, viruses, malware and other malicious threats for Linux and Unix systems. Here is a step-by-step guide to installing and setting up ClamAV on Raspberry Pi.

Antivirus on a Raspberry Pi with ClamAV?


  • Raspberry Pi OS installed
  • Internet connectivity
  • Terminal/command line access

Install ClamAV and database signatures

sudo apt install clamav clamav-daemon -y

This installs ClamAV and the virus database signatures to start detecting threats. The database needs to be kept up-to-date:

sudo freshclam

Configure ClamAV

Edit /etc/clamav/clamd.conf and modify:

LogFile /var/log/clamav/clamav.log

LogTime yes

TemporaryDirectory /tmp

DatabaseDirectory /var/lib/clamav

LocalSocket /tmp/clamd.socket

FixStaleSocket true

TCPSocket 3310


MaxDirectoryRecursion 15

ScanPDF yes

ScanOLE2 yes

Save and exit. This configures logging, temporary and database dirs, local socket file, stale socket handling, TCP port, PDF/OLE2 scanning, etc.

Add user to ClamAV group

The clamav group allows access to scan files as a non-root user:

sudo usermod -a -G clamav <username>

Replace <username> with your pi user.

Enable services

Start and enable the services:

sudo systemctl enable ClamAV-daemon

sudo systemctl start clamav-daemon

ClamAV is now installed and running on the Raspberry Pi.

Scanning for Viruses with ClamAV

Here are some ways to scan files, directories, memory and more for malware threats with ClamAV.

Scan a file

clamscan filename

Replace filename with path to the file.

Scan a directory

clamscan -r /path/to/directory

Use -r for recursive scan.

Scan all files

clamscan -r /

Scan memory processes

sudo clamscan –multiscan /dev/shm

This scans running memory processes which is useful to detect active malware threats.

Automatically scan on copy or create

Use clamscan –copy=yes or clamscan –create=yes to automatically scan files when they are copied or created in the scanned directory.

Verbosity and logs

Add -v to increase verbosity and see detailed logs. Logs also go to /var/log/clamav/clamav.log

Exclude files/dirs

Use –exclude-dir=”path/” or –exclude=”file” to skip scanning specific files and directories.

Configuration file

See man clamscan for details on using a config file to specify scan settings.

Automating ClamAV Scans with Cron Jobs

ClamAV can be automated to regularly scan for threats by setting up Cron jobs.

Here is an example cron to scan daily at 1 AM and send an email if any threats found:

 Daily ClamAV scan at 1 AM

This recursively scans root, excluding some dirs, removes infected files, logs results, emails if infections found.

Cron allows setting up scheduled scans tailored to your needs.

Effectiveness and Limitations of ClamAV

Some key things to note on ClamAV’s capabilities as an antivirus solution:


  • Open source, free and constantly updated
  • Detects wide range of viruses, trojans, malware, spyware, etc
  • Relatively fast scanning of files and memory
  • Low resource usage suitable for Raspberry Pi


  • Does not scan encrypted or compressed files inside archives
  • Limited heuristics compared to commercial engines
  • Lower detection rates for brand new threats
  • No real-time scanning, only on-demand or scheduled
  • Graphical interface not available, command-line only

So while ClamAV can provide good baseline protection, for higher security commercial antivirus or endpoint protection systems may be more robust especially against new targeted attacks.

Key Takeaways

  • ClamAV provides free, open-source antivirus capabilities for Linux systems
  • Install with apt install ClamAV on Raspberry Pi
  • Configure via clamd.conf and enable systemd services
  • Scan files, dirs, memory with clamscan and –options
  • Automate scans via cron jobs
  • Balances performance for Pi but has detection limits

This covers the basics of utilizing ClamAV to scan for viruses and malware threats on a Raspberry Pi device. It can serve as a helpful additional security layer but with some limitations versus full-fledged commercial antivirus software. Properly configuring and automating scans is key to effectiveness.


Installing ClamAV on Raspberry Pi and leveraging its scanning engine provides a free method to detect malware threats in files, directories, and memory processes. While it has some gaps particularly against advanced targeted attacks, it strikes a good balance of security and performance for Pi based on its open-source approach. Automating scans and review of logs is important for visibility. For higher security needs, ClamAV could be used along with commercial solutions, behavior monitoring, and other layers of protection against viruses and malicious code.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What operating systems does ClamAV support?
    ClamAV works on Linux, Unix, macOS, and Windows operating systems. For Raspberry Pi, the ClamAV package is included in Raspberry Pi OS by default.

  2. Does ClamAV need a lot of system resources?
    No, one of the advantages of ClamAV is its low resource usage making it suitable to run on Raspberry Pis without slowing down the system too much during scans.

  3. Can ClamAV scan Windows files and malware?
    Yes, ClamAV detects Portable Executable (PE) based Windows viruses, trojans, spyware, etc. Its detection databases include threats across platforms.

  4. Does ClamAV update its virus definitions automatically?
    By default, no. You need to run freshclam manually or setup automation to check for database updates to keep ClamAV detection signatures current.

  5. Can ClamAV scan inside compressed files?
    No, one limitation is ClamAV does not extract and scan inside compressed archives, ISO files or encrypted file containers. It only scans uncompressed regular files and directories.

  6. Can I run ClamAV scans on-demand instead of on a schedule?
    Yes, you can manually trigger a ClamAV scan using the clamscan command anytime on-demand instead of relying on cron scheduled scans.

  7. Does ClamAV scan a system’s memory and processes?
    Yes, you can use the –multiscan option along with /dev/shm to scan running memory processes for active malware threats.

  8. What kinds of malware and viruses can ClamAV detect?
    ClamAV can detect trojans, viruses, worms, spyware, adware, backdoors, rootkits, phishing URLs, and other kinds of malicious threats across Windows, Linux, Android, and macOS.

  9. Is ClamAV only designed to scan for viruses?
    No, while viruses are one type of threat it scans for, ClamAV detects a wide range of malware and not just standard computer viruses specifically. Its heuristic engine looks for any malicious or potentially unwanted code.

  10. Does installing ClamAV reduce the likelihood of getting infected?
    Yes, having real-time antivirus protection in place serves as an additional layer of defense against viruses and malware. However, ClamAV only scans on-demand or scheduled, unlike real-time scanners. Users should still be wary of threats.

  11. Should I quarantine or delete infected files detected by ClamAV?
    It is generally recommended to quarantine detections in a separate folder for analysis instead of automatically deleting files that triggered a virus alert. Quarantining allows investigation of false positives while deleting loses the file permanently.

  12. Can ClamAV detect malware on external drives or USB devices?
    Yes, you can use ClamAV to scan external hard disks, USB flash drives, SD cards, etc. by connecting the device to your Pi and performing a scan targeting the external media’s mounted directories. This allows cleaning any infections before accessing the files.

  13. Does ClamAV need updated Raspberry Pi firmware/kernel to run?
    ClamAV does not strictly require updated firmware or kernel versions – it can run on older Pi systems as long as the OS is still supported upstream. However, keeping firmware updated is still a good security practice for devices.

  14. Can I view a history of detections and infected files in ClamAV logs?
    Yes, ClamAV logs timestamped detection events along with filenames involved to /var/log/clamav/clamav.log by default. You can consult logs to see what has been recently detected and take any necessary actions.

  15. Does ClamAV scan network traffic or just local files?
    ClamAV only scans files on the local file system. It does not scan network connections, internet traffic, emails, or detect threats propagating over the network. An IDS/IPS would be required for protecting network traffic.

  16. What is a good schedule to run Raspberry Pi ClamAV scans?
    For routine recurring scans, daily or every few days is reasonable. Critical systems may warrant hourly or alternate day scans. Weekly scans can work for home devices. Adjust schedule based on risk profile and resources available.

  17. How does ClamAV compare to commercial antivirus solutions?
    ClamAV provides decent capability at lower resource usage due to open source approach. However, commercial engines generally offer higher detection rates, real-time scanning, and more advanced heuristics better suited for organizations.

  18. Can I create exceptions or whitelists of files ClamAV should not scan?
    Yes, ClamAV allows files and directories to be excluded from scanning using wildcards and regular expressions via the –exclude flag or config files. This prevents clean files from repeatedly triggering false positives.

  19. Does ClamAV scanning impact Raspberry Pi performance?
    Minimal impact during actual scans, but constant scanning can tax the system. Schedule scans during idle periods and ensure database updating does not interfere with core tasks. Tune as needed.

  20. Can ClamAV integrate with monitoring tools to alert on detections?
    Yes, ClamAV can pipe scan results to SIEMs, monitoring tools, ticketing systems and administer alerts leveraging scripts when threats are discovered automatically.

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