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Anti-virus scanner added to Google Gmail

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Google has introduced an anti-virus scanning service to Gmail. Each time users send and receive attachments, Gmail will automatically scan them for viruses. It's unclear whether Google developed the technology in-house (highly unlikely) or licensed it from a security firm, much less who that firm might be.

Gmail previously blocked the transmission of executable attachments but adding anti-virus scanning allows the service to keep up with its competitors on user security. Yahoo! Mail uses Symantec software to scan for viruses. Hotmail, which has offered anti-virus scanning for some time, licenses its technology from Trend Micro.

The use of anti-virus scanning software by email providers is good for internet hygiene, especially since the fast-spreading Sober worm is currently accounting for a sizeable slice of net traffic, but shouldn't be regarded as a substitute for desktop security software. These days malware is almost as likely to be offered up as a download from maliciously constructed websites or across network shares as appearing in user's email in-boxes. ®

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