Nigel Metheringham edited this page Nov 25, 2012 · 1 revision
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How can I send notifications to the sender/recipient/administrator when a virus is detected?

(by TimJackson)


Mostly this is pointless, and in some cases harmful.

Notifications to sender

DO NOT DO THIS! Notifications to senders are extremely harmful. They are rapidly becoming as much, if not more, of a problem than the viruses themselves. Consider that almost all e-mail-borne viruses fake the envelope sender - if you send alerts, they will either go to some random person who had nothing to do with sending the e-mail (which means basically that you are sending spam) or they will be undeliverable, in which case they will freeze on your queue.

Remember that if you reject at SMTP time (e.g. using Exiscan) then, in the case of "legitimate" mail which is virus infected (e.g. a macro virus in a word processor document; these are rare), the sender will be notified by the generation of an SMTP error upstream from you. So put any information that you want to pass to the sender in your SMTP rejection.

There are lots of efforts to block "bogus virus warnings" caused by ill-advised "notifications to sender", including TimJackson's for SpamAssassin.

Notifications to recipients

Frankly, why do you want to do this? There is not going to be anything useful that the recipient can do. If you send them a notification (e.g. with the "sender" and subject line), what are they going to do?

  • They might ignore the e-mail, in which case what was the point in sending it and cluttering up their inbox?
  • Odds on, they will e-mail the (probably faked) "sender" saying something like "why did you send me a virus?" or "please disinfect and resend your mail". This has much of the same annoyance effect as "Notifications to sender" as discussed above, creates confusion and wastes time.

If you need to show your recipients that you are "doing something", do a weekly report based on your logs showing how many viruses you rejected, or something.

Notifications to administrators

Well, you can do this if you really want. But, honestly, do you have nothing better to do than read e-mails every time your organisation receives a virus? Read your logs! If you do really want to send notifications to administrators, see ExiscanExamples.

I would recommend existats for an overview of exim logs.