Alerts generated by antivirus software are as bad as the spam advertising messages that clog up users' email accounts, according to an industry analyst.
"Many email security products or services will warn you if they detect a virus in an incoming message. The problem is that these days, most virus-infected email is sent not by users, but by other viruses," said Richi Jennings, an analyst at Ferris Research.
"It's effectively spam. The viruses will often use the same lists of recipients as spammers do and there's no point in contacting the 'sender' of the message because it's probably forged."
Nick Bowman, a spokesman at antivirus vendor McAfee, said: "He's right in that an antivirus product that notifies the sender or recipient of infection would indeed be creating extra traffic, and he's right that many viruses use spoofing with the same net effect."
However, Bowman explained that any good security vendor would not automatically forward notifications to cut down on the amount of traffic.
"Antivirus products can be configured to notify senders and recipients if they want, but it's not something that McAfee recommends," he said.
"What Richi's talking about has been highlighted and addressed at least two to three years ago. It hasn't been an issue for some time."
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