Viruses/Worms, Spyware/Adware, Spam and Patches

Sent 5/1/2004


As you know we have some fairly aggressive filters in place for blocking most “Spam”. As of midnight last night covering the last two week period the servers have delivered 40,635 pieces of mail while summarily deleting 29,190 pieces for failing the multiple public “Black-list” tests and quarantining another 6050 for failing word, phrase, statistical and our own internal blacklist. Of those that were quarantined a total of 42 were determined either through our own examination or through a follow-up request (21 such requests) of the automated “bounce” message that is generated and sent when an email triggers the filters. This numbers show that we are running a “false positive” of only 0.16% during this period. Obviously, more spam gets through the filters than that which are falsely tagged as being spam. So I would say that our filters appear to be set as close to perfect as we can at this point.

We are also filtering mail for the presence of attachments that appear to have the type of files that could carry viruses and worms. We are not filtering .ZIP files which the virus and worm writers have started using and they have even started using .CPL files which we also do not filter (these are the type of program that is run from the Windows Control panel. We urge you to make sure that you are running up to date anti-virus software and that the software is updating daily. But even if you are doing that you are still at risk and your own intelligence needs to be your first line of defense. Just because an email appears to be from someone you know does not guarantee that it is safe. If an email arrives with an attachment make sure that the subject of the email and the message inside the email actually are personalized to you and talk about the attachment. If you are still in doubt as to if an attachment is valid or not simply reply to the person that sent it to you and ask them before you open the attachment. If it is valid they will reply and tell you yes if not then delete it!

Another thing that you need to MAKE SURE of is that you keep your copy of Windows and/or Internet Explorer patched with the current Critical and Security updates. They can be found at

This “type” of software has started to get media attention this past week (finally!). Installing those “cute” little programs that promise to allow you to add “pretty” little pictures and backgrounds (Smiley Central, Hotbar, etc…) to your email also come with a price. You surrender you privacy and the privacy of the people that you send email to if they install that horrible software on their machine by following the advertisement that gets placed at the end of your email by those programs. Similar type software (last count that I saw showed over 15,000 similar programs floating around!) not only robs you of your privacy but slows your machine down to the point that it can become unusable.

Some recent media stories on Spyware/Adware:

Sites with info on many of the more common software of this type:

Software we recommend for getting rid of this garbage!

Be safe out here in cyberspace!

Dave R.
System Administrator
Summit Internet Services

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