Research Information Ltd -- 18 January 2022, at 10.43 pm

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Viruses, worms & spam

Most email users will have received all sorts of messages carrying viruses, worms and spam, or attempting to perpetrate some sort of scam. Some of it is extremely nasty, inflammatory or pornographic. All of it is costly, time-consuming and annoying.

Like many companies and individuals, we are not only intended victims of the above, but we also receive angry messages from customers and business relations telling us that they have received spam or virus-infected emails from us.

Research Information Ltd does not use spam marketing methods. If we send you an email, it will either be in the course of doing business with you, or because we believe you have requested or agreed to us doing so, or to send you carefully targeted information.

In addition, we use mainstream anti-virus software that is continually updated. Anti-virus software is reactive in nature and cannot guarantee the safety of any system, but we do take care to ensure that we are not a source of infection. However, if you use email, you must take responsibility for yourself and install anti-virus software to check your incoming mail.

If you receive an email infected with a virus/worm or just plain spam it is unlikely to have originated from our offices. Recent viruses/worms use a technique called 'spoofing' whereby they make it look as they have come from an innocent party. To do so, they trawl through the address books of already-infected systems, pick an email address at random and use it in the 'From' field of infected outgoing messages. If there is a single unprotected system in the world that has your email address on it, you are likely to be used as a 'spoof' address yourself at some time, and there is almost nothing you can do about it.

Current wisdom says 'do not react'.

Sending out angry emails to the apparent senders of infected or spam emails is ineffective. Not only are they upsetting for the apparent -- but innocent -- 'spoofed' sender, they also add to the huge burden of junk mail overloading the Internet.

For the same reasons it is also important to ensure that your company's incoming email system does not 'bounce' virus-infected mail to the apparent sender. This simply automates the ineffectiveness.

If you receive spam mail, simply delete it. Invest in anti-spam software if it is becoming a problem. Accept that it is extremely difficult to get at the real perpetrators. Never hit 'reply' or 'remove me from your list', as this simply confirms that your email address is 'live'.

Most important of all, buy and install effective anti-virus software and keep it up to date.

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