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Chapter 4. Using Email Clients for Good ... > One Spark Can Start a Fire

One Spark Can Start a Fire

When email worms enter a corporate network, they seem to be especially potent. Because many corporate users list each other in their address books and tend to trust messages from each other, a worm that makes it through external defenses and infects a single machine can often spread like wildfire. This out-of-control infection process makes it difficult to stop the attack because so many of the company's resources are tied up in propagating the worm, and few resources are left to combat the infection.

Case Study 4-3

Robin felt as though she was living in a nightmare. For a moment, she was tempted to pinch herself, but she realized that would simply result in a sore arm and the same dilemma.

Robin was a system administrator responsible for the WEM Corporation's email servers. With more than 100,000 employees, a large amount of email passed through the servers on a daily basis. With that many email users, system administrators had their share of problems. On any given day, they might deal with anything from a corrupt DLL file in an email program to a user with a virus to someone who had sent an email and wished he hadn't.

Today was different, however. A major email worm had hit the system and was wreaking havoc across the board. Every time a user received an email containing the worm, it sent the worm to everyone in his or her address book. Because many users had each other in their address books, the worm was cycling over and over. John sent the worm to Mary, who sent it to Lisa, who sent it back to John, who started the whole process over again. Robin caught herself humming “The ankle bone's connected to the leg bone. The leg bone's connected to the….” She focused her attention back on her screen and tried to think clearly about the best way to recover.



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