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The Love Bug: Baldrick Operators From Hell act

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IT administrators have moved quickly to limit the damage caused by the Love Bug by, er, stopping their users reading anything that even mentions it. Think about it, folks - virus breaks out, Symantec sends out virus alert which explains the virus, virus alert trips the corporate filtering system...

Now we know that the Baldrick Operator From Hell really exists, because after the Love Bug hit, The Register's daily update service swiftly received evidence of their cunning schemes. Clearly, what they did as soon as they heard about ILOVEYOU was to start scanning incoming emails for the string "ILOVEYOU". As the issues of the update around the time of the virus generally contained at least one reference to ILOVEYOU in a headline (it's just the headlines that go out), naturally we tripped their filters and our emails got bounced.

But hang on, you might boggle, isn't ILOVEYOU supposed to be in the header, not the text? Well, yes. And um, isn't it a bit weird for them to be using spam-trapping systems (this seems to be the case) as a virus 'defence'? Well, yes, it's a bit like setting a cat to crack a nut.

It's with some satisfaction that we note that one of the Baldrick Operators From Hell inhabits bigyellow.com, our old friends at Bell Atlantic Electronic Commerce Inc. Bigyellow uses a spam filtering system that assigns values to a list of keywords, so too may mentions of free, sex, or Barnsley Babes Get Down and Dirty, and the software concludes you're spam, bounces you, and sends you a handy text file that tells you why.

We get one of these from bigyellow around once a month, when we breach the threshold. Last week though, on tearing into the text file for the crime count, we found we'd scored 255, way over the top, because we'd said ILOVEYOU twice, at 100 points apiece (the 5 was for "free" since you ask).

When we complained we were stunned to actually get a response from postmaster@bigyellow.com, pointing out that the system had both virus and spam filters, and referring us to the text file. But we knew that, and if you look at the text file you see the virus check completes before the spam check is engaged (and finds no virus, natch). We pointed out to postie that by using a spam filter to check for virus mentions he was blocking his users' access to virus alerts, and to something like 90 per cent of all of the newspapers that came out last Friday, but for some reason he hasn't got back to us... ®

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