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What You Can do to Prevent Spam Hassles

Well, I knew something was up on Monday afternoon when I started getting an inordinate number of e-mails. I noticed the infection within hours of it first starting. I am sure many of you have interacted with the SoBig e-mail worm that has stormed computers around the globe to become the fastest spreading virus yet seen. CNN estimates that the worm has cost $50 million in damage so far.

It even affected one of the main labs in the country, Quest labs, which I use for our patients' blood test results. It is inexcusable for a major corporation to get caught in this, as there was a patch to fix this problem posted by Microsoft two weeks ago. But the bigger issue is the incompetence of any major corporation using security-flawed Microsoft on any server exposed to the outside world.

Personally the worm has only been a minor annoyance for me because I use a spam filter called Mailwasher. I have been using this filtering software for well over a year, and I have been very pleased with the results.

You can delete unwanted e-mails before you download them. You'll be able to see who the email is from, the subject and the attachment. This will enable you to decide if you want to delete the e-mail or keep it.

MailWasher analyses each e-mail as it arrives and warns you if it is suspected junk mail or a virus by heuristic checking and filtering. The standard status categories are: Normal, Virus, Possibly virus, Possibly spam, Probably spam, Chain letter, Blacklisted.

Fortunately, I won't need this program next week, as we will be using spam filters and virus protection at the e-mail server level that our programmers recently implemented. This, by far, is the most elegant solution, but one most companies don't have the resources to implement.

New Scientist August 21, 2003

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