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Email Viruses


Stan Gelber

If you are a regular user of email I am sure you have read about or even experienced the Melissa Virus. Contrary to most reports its been around for at least a month, I was hit about two weeks ago and needless to say was not a happy camper.

Like most of you, I receive a considerable amount of SPAM and my usual response is to either 1) ignore it when it doesn’t have a return address; 2) forward it to the originating ISP’s abuse mailbox, or 3) reply with a remove message.

The way I acquired the Melissa virus was using the third option. It appeared the virus grabbed an email address list I use in Microsoft Outlook and placed my email address as the return address of the SPAM email message. Needless to say I was rather disturbed when I started receiving nasty remove notices for an email I knew nothing about.

I think at this point it has become quite evident that we must accept the following:

  1. Governments can pass laws outlawing SPAM but do they have people to enforce these laws.
  2. Spammers will simply get an account with an ISP in a country where no laws to control SPAM exist.
  3. Remove notices are often used to capture new email addresses which are then sold as part of some email list promotion.
  4. People who send SPAM really don’t care if we are offended.
  5. Some people take pleasure in creating and propagating viruses.

What can you do about it.

  1. To protect yourself from Viruses
  2. Always use a virus protection program. There are two types. Active and Passive. Active virus protection means the virus program is running all the time and constantly checks files that are downloaded from the net or files copied from transportable media (floppies, zip drives etc).

    Passive virus checking requires that you manually run the anti-virus program to scan and detect for viruses.

    I use several anti-virus programs and the ones I like include Symantec Anti-Virus and McAfee anti-virus. Both seem to do an excellent job or detecting and cleaning viruses.

  3. To protest Spam

Most ISP’s have setup special email boxes for reporting Spam abuse. The address usually consists of (substitute with the address of the ISP). I simply forward the Spam to the ISP and hope they will deal with it.

I would not reply with a "remove" in the subject line even if it indicates to do so unless you are sure it is a legitimate remove notice.

Finally, never open an email attachment unless you scan it for viruses first!


Stan Gelber

CEO Healthlinks.Net

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