Virus and anti-virus overview

HOW THE WIRE DEALS WITH VIRUSES

Virus definitions on our mail servers are updated hourly and perform three tasks:

  • scan all e-mail from the Internet for viruses and potentially harmful attachments and remove potentially dangerous attachments (files ending in .exe, .bat, .com, or .pif etc)
  • delete “bogus” virus generated email created by viruses like Klez or Sobig.F
  • delete Password Protected ZIP files due to the volume of viruses that are encrypted. Standard ZIP files are scanned and allowed.

Our mail servers notify you when a virus was detected and removed and when a potentially dangerous attachment was removed. Virus generated email is removed silently to avoid adding unnecessary emails to your inbox.

NOTIFICATIONS WE SEND ABOUT VIRUSES

1. A VIRUS HAS BEEN REMOVED

This is a message from The Wire Inc. Virus Scanner
————————————————————
The original e-mail attachment [filename] has been infected by a suspected virus and has been replaced by this warning message.

The Virus Scanner reported the following at [date]:

[report]

For more information about anti-virus service at The Wire Inc.
please view http://www.the-wire.com/antivirus.php

—–
Support Dept.
The Wire Inc.

2. A POTENTIALLY HARMFUL ATTACHMENT HAS BEEN REMOVED

This is a message from The Wire Inc. Virus Scanner
————————————————————
The original e-mail attachment “$filename” is on the list of
unacceptable attachments for this site and has been replaced by this warning message.

If you wish to receive a copy of the original attachment, please e-mail
the sender and ask them to resend in archived format (i.e. Zip or
Stuffit).

The Virus Scanner reported the following at [date]:

[report]

For more information about anti-virus service at The Wire Inc.
please view http://www.the-wire.com/antivirus.php

—–
Support Dept.
The Wire Inc.

Internal Tracking Number: [hostname, message]

If you wish to receive the attachment, please ask the sender to resend it an archive format like ZIP or Stuffit.

NOTIFICATIONS OTHER COMPANIES SEND ABOUT VIRUSES:

Virus generated email often forge the FROM address and can randomly choose you as the “sender”. As the emails trigger mail server antivirus software, you are notified. If your email address is chosen as a SENDER, FROM or REPLY-TO address you can expect to see:

  • mail server warnings from an ISP that you sent a virus to one of their clients
  • mail server notices that email bounced because an account is inactive or full

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR COMPUTER?

Install and regularly update antivirus software. Your only piece of mind when you see a notice implicating your email address in spam or viruses is to know that your computer is virus free. We advise updating definitions daily or before each use of the internet if your usage is less frequent. Our scans help but email is only one way to get a virus. You still need to prevent a virus via a website or external storage (CD, memory stick etc)

  • Regularly update your computer with free updates and patches from Microsoft or Apple. Protect your computer from known vulnerabilities.
  • Turn on or install a personal firewall on your computer. Please familiarise yourself with the implications of turning on firewall software.
  • If you do receive a barrage of virus related bouncebacks to your email account, setup a filter to move the emails out of your inbox and alert the ISP of the account holder.

WHAT ARE VIRUSES, WORMS AND TROJANS?

A virus is a program that makes copies of itself and spreads by attaching itself to a host, often damaging the host in the process. Since the 1990s, most viruses are macro viruses written specifically for the Windows environment to infect files by exploiting vulnerabilities in Word and Outlook. Famous examples include Klez, Melissa and Sobig.

A worm is similar to a virus in that in replicates itself however, unlike a virus, it is self contained and does not need to attach itself to an executable program. While worms can be useful, applying patches on a network, malicious worms delete files and crash computers or servers by using up all resources. Famous examples include CodeRed and Blaster.

A trojan is a stand-alone program that does not attach to another program and does not move from one computer to another on its own. The word is derived from the classical myth of the Trojan Horse where Greek soldiers gained access to Troy in a giant wooden horse.

Malicious code can take the attributes and behaviours of more than one of the above.

FAQ

Question: If you scan my e-mail for viruses, do I need my own anti-virus software?
Yes! It is critical to maintain updated antivirus software because our system may miss something and, more importantly, viruses don’t only arrive by email. Viruses can be hidden in a downloaded file or CD or diskette software. Think of our anti-virus service as a first line of defense that takes some of the load off you, but only for e-mail viruses.

Question: I keep receiving returned messages that I never sent. Why?
Email viruses typically send out a barrage of email from the email lists on the host computer. Recently, viruses forge the “From” address and this email address receives a large number of email bounce backs, notifications and warnings.

Question: I received an e-mail today that said I sent a virus. Did I?
Possibly. The only way to know is to regularly perform security updates and anti-virus scans.

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