Re: large email attachments on greenyes

Roger M. Guttentag (
Wed, 21 Apr 1999 18:02:45 -0400

At 10:50 AM 4/19/99 -0700, Myra Nissen wrote:
>Hi all,
>I just heard an interview on the news with a computer specialist about
>virus. The interview was a result of the melissa virus.
>The speaker was saying that virus in general, intentional or accidental,
>are most easily transmitted through MS Word. So in general it would not
>be a good idea to open any MS Word attachment you recieve unless it is a
>document that you are expecting. He recommends that when you receive
>one, you should contact the sender and ask for it as part of the e-mail
>text. (What I do anyway, as I can not open most text files sent to me.)
>He also feels that it is not necessary to send text files over the
Dear GreenYesers:

I would like to add my own measly 2 cents to the issue of e-mail
attachments. I am in agreement with the sentiments expressed in previous
messages that subscribers to this list (as well as related ones that we may
monitor such as the Recycle list) should refrain from attaching documents
to their messages. In other messages, there is often criticism leveled
against unwanted direct mail. Well, even though the medium is digital and
not paper-based the principle is still the same. I am interested only in
e-mail text messages and I interpret my subscription to this list (as well
as any list) as giving my consent to only this form of communication.
Anything else is really unrequested and therefore unwanted by me. If I
want a document, I am perfectly capable of requesting it by e-mail or
downloading from the Web independently of the list and therefore having no
impact on the list's message traffic. If the justification for sending
unrequested attachments is that I am free to delete them then we have just
vitiated our main arguments against paper-based direct mail (if you don't
want it then discard or recycle). Again, the argument that we are only
discarding electrons and not fiber is fundamentally irrelevant. Either we
endorse the principle that we (the subscribers) have the right to define
what is unwanted communications or we don't.

With respect to Myra's comments regarding Macro viruses which can arrive
via word processing documents such as Word - Antivirus scanners do work
against them so it is a good idea to scan any attached files. However,
almost all anti-virus software work on the basis of matching the virus'
known digital signature to a virus definition file. Since new viruses are
constantly cropping up it is necessary to insure that the definition files
used by your AV software is updated at least monthly. All the leading AV
products now allow you to obtain these updates via the Internet. Alas,
like file backups and hard drive maintenance, this is often something that
users neglect to do. Therefore it is still very possible, even with AV
software, to download a virus through an e-mail attachment espcially it is
a fast proprogating one as recently demonstrated by the Melissa virus.
This is another good reason why we should refrain from unrestricted
dissemination of file attachments on an e-mail discussion list.


Roger M. Guttentag
Read Recycling in Cyberspace in Resource Recycling
May / June 1999 column topic - Electronic Product Discards