Beware the Grinch e-mail!
(IDG) -- Network administrators beware: The e-mail holiday greeting card of the Grinch on your network could be stealing more than Christmas, it could also be stealing your bandwidth, your data, and leaving you some unpleasant gifts.
The combination of the holiday season and the ease of e-mail has lead to the seasonal problem of huge files and executables being sent in large numbers across corporate networks. Such messages can often include viruses, hide Malicious Mobile code attacks in Java Applet or ActiveX Control animated graphics, or can simply steal bandwidth by the large amounts of space the messages require.
Security experts agree that the first way to prevent problems is to have a consistent and agreed upon policy about distributing holiday greetings.
"If someone sends a 200KB message to everyone in the network, that can be a problem very quickly," said Dan Schrader, director of product marketing for Trend Micro, a network security company in Cupertino, Calif. "Set some clear policies and tell your users what they are."
As mobile code sees greater proliferation in messages, administrators and users need to be aware of what they are opening when they receive a message.
"If you are putting something in a mailing, you should probably check and make sure that it's not hostile code," said Jim Balderston, industry analyst for Zona Research, in Redwood City, Calif. "Otherwise it's like sending Christmas cards covered in Anthrax or something."
"A lot of the Christmas cards or some of the more entertaining Christmas sites are done in mobile code, so you need to be careful about what you are opening up," said Penny Leavy, vice president of worldwide marketing for Finjan, a mobile code security company in San Jose, Calif. "What looks like an innocent animation may be malicious in nature, and could damage your machine."
Tally Systems is hoping to receive a gift of its own as it ships Veranda 2.2, the latest version of an e-mail usage management and reporting system. Veranda will let administrators zero in on where the large files are coming from and stop them before they get worse, according to the company.
"It's a reporting system for a variety of types of messaging mechanisms," said Joanne Egner, product manager for Tally Systems. "We created some new reports specifically for capacity planning and load balancing of your e-mail systems."
Overall, security experts recommend a sound policy first and a complete security system to back it up when the holiday greeting cards arrive.
Tally's Veranda 2.2 is slated for release Dec. 18, for Windows NT, 95, and 98, priced at $1,995 for 100 users.
Matthew Nelson is an InfoWorld reporter.
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