Does email anti-virus scanning replace my desktop software?

Messages entering Pen Publishing systems pass through gateway scanning in transit to our mail system servers.  This scanning occurs at the packet level and catches most actual viruses.  From there, a message is transmitted to our spam filter/virus scanning system.  This first scans for spam then passing those checks with an adequate score, is passed to our second anti-virus scanner.  This second scanner is a different vendor from the first to provide the greater chance that if one missed an infected file, the second would catch it.  None of the anti-virus software is freeware/open source, it is all very well respected scanning engines from well-known and respected vendors.  These scanning engines are also likely to be different than many locally installed solutions.  As this only scans traffic to and from our servers and specifically email, it does not in any way protect a user from other internet/local virus infection vectors.  For all customers that ask if our service can replace desktop-level protection, the answer is no.  It is an additional layer of protection intended to provide that extra level assurance.

As is the case with any anti-virus solution, there is no possible way to catch them all.  Internet malware is constantly evolving and just like the seasonal flu, there has to be a bug before the vaccine. 

For those looking for cost-effective malware protection solutions, here a few suggestions:

Anti-virus –

Microsoft Security Essentials - $0 - contains both well-respected ant-virus and anti-spyware protection in a simple interface for home use.  For business use, Microsoft Forefront Client Security is available.

AVG Free - $0 – a home use license of their well-respected anti-malware engine.

Avast! Personal Edition - $0 – again a home use license

Anti-spyware –

Malwarebytes - $0 – a free edition is offered to evaluate the product and clean existing infections.

Spybot Search and Destroy - $0 – well respected and long used product.

All of the above products are ones we have used or still do for home use.  For products used in a business environment, reasonable licensing fees are available.

Another way to reduce the possible infection vectors for malware is to make sure users use their computers with user-level privileges.  Most computers ship with the default user being the administrative user.  This allows malware to install with system level permissions and to spread like wildfire.  We recommend that everyone create a user-level profile that has no ability to install software for daily use.  This forces update packages and malware installers to have to ask for permission to install.  This does not protect from possible infection as an untrained user can simply click yes and provide the admin login and the infection occurs anyway.  But again, it is another layer of defense.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact support.

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