Virus Alerts Are as Bad as Spam

Many email security products or services will warn you if they detect a virus in an incoming message. You'll receive a Virus Alert message in your inbox that either includes the original plain text message with the attachment stripped out, or has just a simple notification that "so-and-so sent you a virus, and click here to read the message in the quarantine." The intention is that you can contact and notify the sender that there is a virus on his or her PC.

The problem is that these days, most virus-infected email is sent not by users, but by other viruses. It's effectively spam, except the motivation is to take over your computer, not to sell you ... things. The viruses will often use the same lists of recipients as spammers do. And there's no point in contacting the "sender" of the message -- it's probably forged.

The upshot is that these virus alert messages are now just as bad as spam. Only a tiny proportion of them are of any use. Email security solutions should be more selective of which messages they warn about.

... Richi Jennings, with thanks to Stephen Canale of OnlyMyEmail

One Trackback

  1. By Computerworld Blogs on March 30, 2006 at 5:59 AM

    IE ActiveX trainwreck ahoy (and I got those desktop blues)

    It’s time once again for IT Blogwatch, in which we look at the confused mess that is the upcoming Internet Explorer ActiveX patch. Not to mention those clicky, tricky, icky, downhome, Desktop Blues …

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. To comment, first join our community.