One of the major sources of viruses is e-mail. Prudence therefore dictates that one give a lot of consideration to e-mail as part of your computer prophylaxis. We use a four level approach.
1. We look at our e-mail on the server using MailWasher (http://www.firetrust.com/products/pro/), and erase anything we don’t want to download.
2. When we download the e-mail, our firewall – at present Outpost – (http://www.agnitum.com/products/outpost/) re-names potentially- harmful attachments so that they won’t execute.
3. Then it goes through our primary anti-virus software – at the moment Norton AntiVirus – (http://www.symantec.com/nav/nav_9xnt/).
4. Then it goes to Benign (http://www.firetrust.com/products/benign/), which would have renamed attachments had not Outpost done it first, and dealt with a host of other possible security issues.
At this point it finally makes it to our e-mail client, which is RIT Labs (http://www.ritlabs.com/) The Bat!. The Bat! is a full-featured e-mail client that is particularly impervious to viruses. In all honesty, we started using The Bat! not because it is so secure, but because our previous e-mail client kept crashing with annoying frequency. We are extremely pleased that we made the change for a number of reasons beyond stability.
Its feature set is, as mentioned, very full, with fancy filtering, templates, and a host of other features that one would expect of a top-flight e-mail client, including an amazing amount of customization. For those imprudent enough not to own MailWasher, The Bat! even includes a way to look at the headers online, and delete unwanted mail from the server without a download. The Bat! is a fast reader, even reading multiple accounts. Online information and support is good, which is important for a program so rich in features.
Of extreme importance to us, The Bat! has built-in PGP facilities, so that encrypting and decrypting messages is easy to do.
Most important, The Bat! separates attachments – including HTML attachments – from the text, so that you have no fear of a virus-laden attachment being run without your knowledge. While you can write (and see) certain imbedded HTML formatting, if there is an actual HTML page attached it will run in your browser. We consider this to be a significant safety issue.
The Bat! is an excellent e-mail client, and we heartily recommend it for your consideration either for home or office use.
In the old days we advised people to get anti-virus software and update it at least once a month. Then we suggested they update it once a week. Then we suggested that a manual update be done daily. At this point we recommend that you have two different sets of anti-virus software, one on your PC and a different one on your server.
For those not running a server, that is to say for home use, we recommend two sets of anti-virus on your computer. For the second anti-virus program we have been running the free version of AVG (http://free.grisoft.com/freeweb.php) from Grisoft. The program is small and efficient, and when we installed it on a friend’s machine, the first scan detected six viruses.
AVG is easy to configure, and we have set it to update itself and run a full scan in the middle of the night.
For the curious, our schedule is a manual update of Norton AntiVirus (http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/download/pages/US- N95.html) and a manual update of SpywareBlaster sometime during the evening. Our home machine does an automated backup at 1am, a SpyBot update and scan at 1:15am, an AdAware update and scan at 2:00am, an AVG update and scan at 2:45 am, and a Norton Antivirus scan at 4:45am.