How to stop the email virus problem: A modest proposal.

I’ve been thinking about the problems caused by email virus’ and I realized that thanks to my partner Brian Alvey being a sysadmin freak who updates our mail server’s virus protection all the time I never really have to deal with the problem.

This got me to thinking.

The people who can do the most to solve the problem are the sysadmins who manage the mail servers. All the mailservers out there come with antivirus software that can kill these viruses at the source before they even get in people’s mailboxes.

Of course, what happens is that many people setup mail servers on their own or pay a tech guy to do it once (which is easy) and then never a) pay for virus software or b) update the virus signatures on their servers.

At some point people would be required to have their server’s audited by a 3rd party (verisign, etc) and the servers should not allow attachments unless your virus software has been updated. Imagine you get into work one day and your email says:

“This message has an attachment, but that attachment is not being forwarded on because billg@microsoft.com’s mail server doesn’t not have the proper antivirus updates. Billg@microsoft.com’s mail server currently has virus updates from 1/14/2004. The most recent update was on 1/24/2004. Please inform the sender of this message to update their anti-virus definitions.”

This style of message would force the comany to stay up to date. It’s sort of like telling everyone in your dating circle you don’t practice safe sexpeople would keep their distance.

I’m not sure anyone has discussed this option yet, but I would be willing to block any *attachments* to our domains in order to solve the problem.

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