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Does Anti-virus Software Work? Do Spam Filters Work?

since many of our friends have lost computers to a virus or viri... i thought i'd make a quick observation:

if one feels they must use Microsoft, then i use Eudora version 1.5.2 for such situations

it is so basic that it does not allow you to make too many mistakes... nor a virus to take over your life.

and i set attachments to go to the floppy drive (usually a: )

this will greatly reduce (though not eliminate) your risk

remembering... separate software for separate tasks will help secure you. read email with an email reader only (never a web browser.)

another replied:
yes, except Microsoft has made the html control applet part of the operating system...
so it is hard for a modern email client to ignore the Microsoft widget that displays/interprets/executes email

so stikin' to old clients is good .. but soon will not work with new Microsoft Windows

yet another asked:
presently I'm using Hotmail. does this constitute an e-mail reader? if not, what would?

i respond:
hmmm... web based email is a weird thing. it is safer in some ways... most importantly that you read your email on the server. however, since you use a webbrowser to read your email, you actually do download the webpage/email to your cache.

so, webbased email may help stop virused attachments from auto downloading onto your computer. but, the webbrowser/reader will allow other types of viri in... in particular html coded viri. (of course, you can't see the virus html code with the web browser... you need to look at it through a text only viewer.

here is an example of some virus code that you would not see if using a webbrowser to read your mail. by just reading the email, the code uses your webbrowser to take over your computer:

(i've changed all the greater than/less than signs to * so it is not dangerous. also to note, some of these viri come in the subject line, etc... meaning you do not even have to open the email... just having it in your "in box" is enough to toast you.)

*jframe src=3Dcid:ASQ3D47Fmqd8Do height=3D0 width=3D0* */jframe*

a funny thing happened when we sent out the above email

one of the recipients' ISP auto blocked and returned the email (stopping / censoring important antiviri information from getting to the intended recipient.)

again, this brings up the huge problem of spam filters and antivirus software. there are 2 main issues:

1) false negatives. this type of software is not foolproof. just because it says you are blocking spam or a virus, doesn't mean you stop them all. and how do you know when you have not detected an unwanted entry? (giving the user a false sense of security.)

2) false positives. in the above mentioned blocking instance... and the recent AOL mess (where AOL blocked all our mail without a valid reason. click here for more information)... their software gave a false positive -- saying something is spam when it is not... saying something is a virus when it is not.

the false positives usually result in more trouble... people's email is unknowingly being censored... other people are falsely being accused... many innocent people are having viri sent to them by these faulty programs.

though i have not done a thorough analysis, i'd guess that at this point in time... more people are having their human rights abused by spam and viri filters than any other single "tool"

... at least that's what's happened to me in the last week.

ps though we got AOL to stop blocking our mail, they still have not produced any proof as to why they blocked us... making it appear as though they made a costly false positive.

Example of a Dangerous False Positive

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