labels: it news, microsoft
Hotmail in hot seat news
19 October 1999

Anti-virus experts have found that Hotmail allows nearly 56 of the Internet's most virulent viruses to pass through. Microsoft has claimed that it had set this problem right.

These experts test every few days for viruses, and were successful in sending virus-infected e-mail in spite of Hotmail having a 'virus scanner' for e-mail downloads. They have proved that the problem remains even a week after Microsoft announced that a combined audit with TRUSTe had rated the system as secure (see related story Audit blames hackers for Hotmail's leak).

Anti-virus engineers at Star Internet, a Cirencester, England-based ISP, and other anti-virus experts said Microsoft
engineers have known since last May that Hotmail's McAfee anti-virus scanning system leaked dangerous VBA-macro
viruses such as Melissa.

Hotmail's engineers could not fix the problem because Hotmail runs on FreeBSD Unix, according to Star Internet.
And Network Associates, which owns anti-virus software maker McAfee -- has produced a fourth version of McAfee
anti-virus scanner that can detect Melissa-style macro viruses, but that version does not run on the FreeBSD Unix
operating system used by Hotmail.

Experts feel that Microsoft's slowness in dealing with security risks is typical of free Internet services which lack money. Even though Hotmail has financial support from its parent company
Microsoft, it money sources are limited to the small revenue generated from banner ads.

Yahoo and Excite do not virus-scan customers' free e-mail accounts and it is true for most consumer services while business services are well taken care of with respect to safety and security.


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Hotmail in hot seat