March 26, 1997 11:00 AM ET
Microsoft posts virus warning system for E-mail clients
By Paula Rooney

  Microsoft Corp. today posted code on its Web site designed to lessen the risk of viruses or undesirable executables entering corporate systems through E-mail attachments.

However, the security feature for the E-mail client is no panacea--it doesn't actually detect or remove bad code, a spokeswoman conceded.

The add-on for Messaging API 32 E-mail clients, which is for users running Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Outlook 97 and the Windows 95 in-box clients on Windows 95 and Windows NT, warns users that attachments could contain viruses or "malicious" code. Users will then have the choice to open or not open a file.

"It's just a warning system to make people think," said a spokeswoman for the Redmond, Wash., company, noting that users still have to use anti-virus software to screen incoming attachments, which sometimes automatically launch when opening an E-mail message.

Analysts said the threat of viruses from incoming attachments is very real and predict that, eventually, all SMTP gateway vendors will have to package protection with their products.

"There are companies that have been impacted by virus-ridden attachments coming into the network," said Matt Cain, vice president of workgroup computing at Meta Group Inc., based in Westport, Conn. "Clearly, there is a vast requirement for education and products that help companies cope with this problem."

Cain noted rising sales of anti-virus software from companies such as McAfee Associates Inc., which recently announced an anti-virus solution for Lotus Development Corp.'s Domino and another soon for Microsoft Exchange. He said such moves testify that there is a real need to clean up incoming Internet attachments into networks.

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