Why Do Virus Warnings Persist?

Question: Even though we've certified that their classroom computer is virus-free, some teachers still get messages about virus-infected attachments. The Email messages appear to have been sent from the teacher's Email account, however. What is causing this?

The IT Guy says:
Unfortunately, after infecting a computer, many viruses use random addresses from the address book, sending Email that appears to originate from that person's computer. This is known as a "spoofed" reply-to Email address.

Although these messages are disconcerting and frustrating, there is little an IT department can do besides ensuring that district computers are virus-free. For all computers, make sure that virus definition files are regularly updated, that virus scans are regularly scheduled, and train teachers and other staff how to check the status of their virus definitions and run a virus scan. This will bolster confidence in the district's anti-virus procedures. Educating users not to panic when receiving these types of Email is also important. And constantly remind staff to never, ever, open an attached file if they do not know the sender or if the subject line looks suspicious, such as "Test" or "Error."

Teachers, staff, and students should also be cautioned that bringing removable media from home and/or downloading attachments from Email opens the door to infection. By default, all computers should be set to scan removable media as well as downloaded Internet files for possible virus infection. None of these procedures can prevent Email from being sent with teachers' Email addresses as a "spoofed" reply-to address, however.

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