Antivirus integrated into e-mail list software

L-Soft International, maker of the popular Listserv e-mail list software, and antivirus company F-Secure Corp. announced a deal Monday by which F-Secure's antivirus will check every attachment sent using the Listserv software in an attempt to stop the spread of viruses over e-mail lists.

When a user subscribed to a mailing list that uses Listserv sends a message to the list, the e-mail is first routed to the e-mail server that hosts the list and is then rebroadcast to everyone subscribed to that list. Because the process of resending the message is usually automatic, attachments that contain viruses might be re-sent to all subscribers. This could be particularly annoying or harmful with mass mailer worms that automatically send themselves to every e-mail address listed in a user's address book.

The deal announced by the two companies, however, will see every attachment sent through Listserv scanned by F-Secure's three antivirus scanning engines, the companies said. If a virus is found, the message will not be sent, they said.

Integrating F-Secure's antivirus into Listserv makes sense because e-mail helps viruses propagate quickly, said Eric Thomas, CEO of L-Soft. Consumers are worried about the viruses they might get from e-mail lists and this may allay some of those fears by "(providing) protection for a very large number of users without them having to do anything," he said.

"By and large, this will make customers relax," he said.

Making those e-mails even safer, F-Secure's three virus scanning engines will catch nearly 100 percent of viruses, according to Risto Siilasmaa, president and CEO F-Secure.

The software uses three engines to catch viruses because "as viruses become more specialized, the scanning engines that look for them need to become more specialized," he said.

Neither man thinks this teaming will stop the spread of viruses worldwide.

"We'd be exaggerating if we said it was going to have a large effect," F-Secure's Siilasmaa said.

Stopping all viruses everywhere is likely an impossible task and isn't necessarily the point, L-Soft's Thomas said.

He expects that the pairing "will curb the speed at which (viruses) spread," giving users and antivirus companies the time they need to update their applications and perform scans of their systems, which will lead to more secure computers.

The new antivirus feature will be made available to L-Soft's Windows 2000 and Linux Listserv customers for free, the company said.

Over 190,000 lists, with 60 million subscribers, are run using Listserv, according to L-Soft.

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