Email Virus and Malware Scanning

All email sent to mail.rpi.edu (incoming mail to you as well as outgoing mail from you) is scanned for known viruses. Note, however, that email is not the only way viruses spread. Users are strongly advised to run up-to-date desktop virus scanners.

Virus scanned messages are rejected when:

  • A virus is detected.
  • A message attachment cannot be scanned for any reason.
  • The message fails heuristic checks such as naming conventions used to hide an executable file as a non-executable text file
  • A connecting email-site has a history of sending viruses, excessive spam, or when the connection traffic interferes with email delivery or threatens system integrity the site will be blocked at the email administrator's discretion. If and when the problem is resolved, access may be restored at the email administrator's discretion.

Rejected messages do return an error code to the connecting mail relay (which may be a desktop email client, or a central mail server) explaining why the message was rejected. But, due to the ease and frequency with which email addresses are forged by viruses, no attempt is made to send email to the purported virus sender.

Viruses and Spam I didn't send

Question:

I received email saying I sent a virus but my antivirus says my machine has no virus. What happened? Should I worry?

Or

I received an email saying a message I sent couldn't be delivered, but I never sent a message to that person. What happened? Should I worry?

Response:

Messages such as these are the result of someone's computer that is infected with a virus sending an email message. Some viruses "borrow" a valid email address from the address book on an infected computer.

So, in messages like these, your email address was used to send a message from the infected machine and you don't need to worry about this.

However, there are two important steps that you should implement if you have not already done so.

Configure your Symantec antivirus to automatically update itself. To do this, start the Symantec antivirus application and under the File tab select the Schedule Updates and opt to have this done everyday. Be sure to enable real-time protection. This is done through the Configure option in Symantec.

Next, configure Microsoft Windows to automatically update itself. An easy way to do this is to open the Control Panel, click System, and select Automatic Updates. Set this to run daily.

Both the Symantec and Microsoft updates will run in the background with little or no intervention need by you.