Don’t send viruses in your email, OK?

I received an email from an online store today. Normally, such emails would have, at the bottom, something like “Certified virus free by whatever…”.

This one though, says “It is your responsibility to satisfy yourself that this email and any attachment is free from viruses and can be opened without harm to your systems.”

Well, no, it’s bloody not. While all of my mail, in and out, is scanned as a matter of course, it is – absolutely – the sender’s responsibility to scan their own email before sending it out into the big wide world. You simply cannot abrogate that responsibility by including such a disclaimer.

And, of course, since the disclaimer can’t be read until the email has been opened – potentially leaving a careless recipient exposed to any virus it might contain – I would seriously question its validity.

The bottom line, especially if you’re doing business online, but it applies to everybody who uses email, is that it is your primary responsibility to ensure that your online security is such that your system does not become infected or, if it does, to clean it immediately, and to routinely scan all outgoing mail. Incoming, too. You do not get to put your email recipients at risk because you can’t be bothered doing that. Maybe those people are scanning their mail like crazy – who can tell? – but I wouldn’t take it for granted, not when they’re passing the buck like this.

Of course, that doesn’t remove the recipient’s responsibility to scan every piece of email – body and attachments – for viruses, both incoming and outgoing. There is never any excuse for receiving or sending email viruses, with or without rubbish disclaimers.

What I want to see on an incoming email is something like this (from mine):-

avast! Antivirus: Outbound message clean.

Virus Database (VPS): 100712-1, 12/07/2010
Tested on: 13/07/2010 10:27:52
avast! – copyright (c) 1988-2010 ALWIL Software.

That tells me you’ve scanned it at your end, and that the anti-virus database is up to date (if the database date is more than 24 hours old, you probably can’t trust it – avast! updates at least every day and, at times of high virus activity, several times a day).

What I don’t want to see is some dumb message telling me that if you’ve sent me a virus it’s somehow my fault.

5 thoughts on “Don’t send viruses in your email, OK?

  1. I think you should name and shame them, Ron. It’s pretty pathetic, isn’t it? As you say, how on earth are you supposed to know until you open the message, by which time it’s too late. Any company worth its salt would surely have some kind of virus protection system in place. If it hasn’t, I’d say it would be difficult to trust any aspect of the way it does business.x

    • Hi Deborah,

      I would have, but for now I need them – I’m buying something from them I’ve not been able to source anywhere else. Once I’ve got it, I can shop ’em.

      Sadly, they’re by no means unique.


    • And so, by popular demand (now my goods are safely in the clutches of Parcelforce), I offer you the culprits –

      My housing association, btw, annotates its emails with instructions, should the message not be for me, not to read it under any circumstances. Like that’ll happen.

  2. I would suspect they do scan their e-mails, but they are just pushing any potential blame on customers. Trouble is anti virus software just doesn’t work, they can’t keep up with new threats and never really managed old ones that well either. Also when people get viruses they always blame someone else, they have probably come across that a few times. Still cheap of them to go down this route though, sign of the times I guess, everybody blames everyone else and everything done on the cheap.

    • Sorry, James – you couldn’t be more wrong.. That might have been the case 10 years ago, but it’s certainly not any longer.

      a-v software absolutely does work, and works very well indeed. I use avast! – have done for 7-8 years – it updates maybe half a dozen times a day, more if the need arises. Mine is set to scan for updates every two hours I lied – it’s every hour.

      However, the user who is only online for a few minutes at a time – which completely defeats the object of broadband by the way – will almost never get their a-v up to date, and thus are a risk to themselves and to others.

      I’m online – well, my computer is – for 16 hours a day at least, my a-v is updated to the max and I NEVER get infected. It frequently flags warnings for risky websites – if I ignore the warning and get trashed, that would be my fault, not the fault of my a-v.

      As for email, not counting spam I probably get several dozen a day on average, and nothing dodgy ever gets through (my mail is scanned while being held in Mailwasher and nothing dangerous even gets as far as my Inbox, where it’s scanned again, just in case).

      The bottom line is that security software is only as good as the user allows it to be. I’ve been online since 1996, when viruses were few but infections many, because a-v software, what there was of it, sucked. That’s no longer the case, and a-v software is better than it’s ever been – it has to be to keep up with the ever-multiplying threats and, while I can’t speak for other apps, I believe avast! to be as up to date as it’s possible to be. It’s at least as good as anything else out there, and better than most. Were that not the case, I wouldn’t be using it.

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