Postini Email Virus Protection

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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It should be a surprise to no one that email virus protection is one of today's largest Internet market shares, hence the rise of email security vendors such as Verisign, Postini, and others. Between 2002 and 2004 alone, the rate of spam to legitimate email rose some 65 percent. During 2004 the rate averaged between 70 and 80 percent. Were the issue simply developing technology to accommodate a higher packet flow, it would be one thing.

Let's set offensive pornography and marketing scams aside for the moment. Let's set directory harvesting and denial of service attacks aside as well. We're left with the viruses and worms and Trojan horses that travel on the back of unsolicited email. The risk is a compromised, sometimes debilitated, network infrastructure.

Exactly what are these threats? Viruses are small programs written to change the way a computer functions without anyone being aware of it. They do this by attaching themselves to a program or file so that they can travel from system to system, infecting as they go. Worms are also designed to self-generate, but they do so by controlling computer functions responsible for transporting files. Worms replicate rapidly and in great numbers. Trojan horses--appropriately named for their classical literature counterpart--are programs that on the surface appear to be legitimate programs.
Protecting Email against Viruses
Given that one in every 12 or 13 emails carries a virus, it's no wonder that the anti-virus software market share is as strong as it is, that email security business has evolved into a specialty with its own strong market share. Effective protection against email viruses is typically part of a comprehensive package that includes network infrastructure security and anti-spam protection. Half of the equation is the anti-viral software engine, the program installed on mail servers--whether corporate or ISP or both--and individual computers. Because these programs work on the basis of identifying known viruses, the other half of the equation is frequent updates of virus definitions, the more frequent, and the better.

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