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InfobITS logo, volume 7, number 1, spring 2001.


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UH E-mail Services Enhanced with Anti-virus Protection (Updated 08/01/02)
by Michael Hodges

ITS has enhanced the security of UH email systems by installing the Sophos anti-virus scanner on our ITS email server. Viruses are detected at the server level and removed before they can reach your client PC or Macintosh system. This added layer of security is in place for all who use the primary @hawaii.edu mail server (mail.hawaii.edu). This includes those who use the University's Web-based email system or Pine on the uhunix systems for incoming as well as outgoing email. POP3 or IMAP email clients such as Eudora, Netscape Mail, or Microsoft Outlook Express are also protected if @mail.hawaii.edu is specified as the mail server for incoming as well as outgoing email.

Infected email attachments are automatically removed from the mail stream and are discarded. In theory, the more prudent action would be to suppress the attachment and forward the email with a message so that the recipient is aware of the attempt to send a message. In practice, it has been demonstrated that the great majority of the infected email is the result of spam generated by Internet worms. ITS has observed cases where thousands of disinfected email were being delivered to an individual in a single day. The volume of this type of mail is very high as can be seen on the graph below. ITS email scanner has been discarding infected mail since the summer of 2001.

It is important to note that the ITS email scanner is not intended to be a replacement for anti-virus software on your personal desktop computer. Its purpose is to supplement or increase your protection from computer viruses transmitted via email and to prevent infected UH computers from propagating the virus over the Internet. Viruses can still be spread to your system by sharing infected files on a diskette, zip disk, network drive, or other media, or by downloading questionable files from the Internet. Refer to the ITS document "An Introduction to Computer Viruses" for more information on viruses and continue to use anti-virus software on your desktop systems. The anti-virus software on your desktop system is a good compliment to the Sophos anti-virus scanner. Be sure to keep your anti-virus software updated with the latest virus definitions since new viruses are released daily.

The activation of the Sophos anti-virus scanner represents months of researching and testing a variety of products for seamless integration with our PMDF mail servers. More information on Sophos can be found at www.sophos.com/products/antivirus.

ITS is pleased to report that while there is a steady increase in the rate of incoming email bearing viruses, the UH community has not experienced a corresponding loss of productivity or data.

Graph of Total Number of Detected Viruses
by Years and Quarters

Note, the dip in 2002Q1 is likely caused by lack of data. This is also the quarter that the new ITS email server, @hawaii.edu, was implemented.


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©2001 University of Hawaii
Updated: August 01, 2002