Reader to Reader - Exchange Server and Outlook Solutions - 01 Oct 1999

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Most commentaries about Content Technologies' MIMEsweeper recommend the program as a solution to Exchange's inability to provide legal disclaimers on email messages. However, MIMEsweeper can do much more.

For my clients, the key additional function that MIMEsweeper provides is virus scanning. You can configure MIMEsweeper to hook into a third-party virus scanner. When an email message arrives, MIMEsweeper breaks it into its various parts, such as header, body, and attachments, and passes each part through the virus scanner. If any of the parts reports an infection, MIMEsweeper quarantines the message. This process works well as long as the virus signatures are up-to-date.

MIMEsweeper uses simple or complex rules to decide what to do with messages during processing. By modifying the standard rules, you can make MIMEsweeper perform other tasks, such as alerting the sender, the recipients, and the administrator, so everyone involved knows a virus is present. MIMEsweeper's rules let you automate notification and routing and free the administrator from having to handle every virus incident.

In addition to using MIMEsweeper's virus scanning, notification, and routing features, you can configure MIMEsweeper with various rules to protect your company from viruses, such as happy99.exe and Melissa. For example, when a client began noticing infections of the happy99.exe virus via Internet email, we immediately added a rule to MIMEsweeper to stop all executables. This quick solution protected my client until an update was available for the virus scanner signature files. Although the rule caught other executables, too, few programs were business-related. By stopping executables, we dramatically reduced problems that emailed screen savers, greeting cards, and other programs introduced. Few users have complained, and when a valid executable comes in, the administrator can release it.

When the Melissa virus occurred, we quickly implemented a complex rule in MIMEsweeper that used lexical analysis. Lexical analysis lets you look for keywords or phrases in email messages, assign weights to these keywords, and flag messages that reach a threshold. When the software sees a match to a suspect keyword, it quarantines the message and notifies all concerned parties. We set up this rule long before the updated signature files were available. This action saved us from email system failures. Because of these features, I consider MIMEsweeper to be an essential tool in an Exchange/Internet email system.

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