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Protecting corporate email by using multiple anti-virus scanners

Web Site: MailStarUSA.com

Anti-virus scanning is a critical part of protecting the corporate LAN from email viruses and other so-called 'malware' (such as scripts). Not only does does an anti-virus solution prevent downtime, but it also controls:

  • Loss of business continuity
  • Loss of confidentiality
  • Loss of data
  • Actual loss of hardware
  • Loss of revenue
  • Loss of productivity

Near-sighted IT planning that does not include anti-virus scanning is bound for disappointment when you consider that no one is safe from email viruses without a virus scanner of some sort. The cost is small compared to the type of losses detailed above and their attendant soft and hard costs.

Scanning for viruses at the internet gateway is a smart move. You can't rely on desktop anti-virus to do the job since the anti-virus database on the desktop is often out of date. Also, if your corporate setup has the same AV product at the gateway and at the desktop there is no additional benefit in scanning email twice. Only if there are different anti-virus products at the desktop and gateway is there any additional benefit. Note, however, that recent tests by several testing labs have found that each of the major anti-virus scanners have weaknesses(1). Further, note that certification by some labs does NOT require anti-virus products to be 100% effective in all areas.

Since none of the anti-virus scanners catch all of the viruses it makes a huge amount of sense to take advantage of the strengths of more than one anti-virus engine. Let's take a look at the results we might expect if we combine two anti-virus products:

(note this table got messed up somewhere - I'm trying to find the original to recreate it)



Combined

floppy disks)(on access)

100.00%

100.00%

(DOS, Win32)(on access)

100.00%

100.00%

(MS Office)(on access)

100.00%

100.00%

(JS, VBS)(on access)

100.00%

100.00%

Viruses

69.39%

100%

97.18%

100.00%

99.72%

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

99.92%

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

99.88%

100.00%

38.46%

100%

Viruses

89.27%

100%

JavaScript

84.78%

100.00%

92.12%

100%

75.00%

100.00%

MalWare

Controls

100.00%

100.00%

76.76%

100%




Clearly we can expect a much better result than if we used just one anti- virus scanner. An outside service such as MailStarUSA.com might well provide an immediate and inexpensive solution. The scanner in use at MailStarUSA is F-Prot which provides a good fit with the more common Norton Anti-Virus on individual desktops or McAfee in corporate environments. Configuration is as simple as a change to your domains MX record to point mail to MailStarUSA. MailStarUSA scans each email and passes it on to your existing email server. Corporate mailservers can be configured to ONLY accept mail from MailStarUSA for added security. Alternatively MailStarUSA can provide SMTP, POP3 and Webmail services in which case you don't need a mailserver at all - and your mail still gets checked once before it hits your desktop and again at your gateway or desktop.

(1) http://www.av-test.org/, http://www.icsalabs.com/, http://www.virusbtn.com

Copyright August 2003 Dirk Hart All rights reserved


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Thank you for the information presented. We have been nailed waiting for our vendor to create a new pattern update for a fast moving virus. Running at least two AV products could only help.

Brian F.
---July 20, 2004







Mon May 1 15:07:33 2006: 1990   TonyLawrence

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Kerio Mail Server can plug in multiple A/V scanners.

I do sell and support Kerio.

------------------------
Kerio Connect Mailserver

Kerio Samepage

Kerio Control Firewall

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