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The University of Southampton

Southampton scanner provides high level of protection from computer viruses and cyberterrorism

Published: 12 March 2003

Computer experts at the University of Southampton have just released a new version of their hugely popular free-to-use email security system MailScanner, offering a high level of protection to companies and institutions wanting to safeguard their computer networks from viruses and the potential threat of cyberterrorism.

Developed by Julian Field of the University of Southampton's world-renowned Department of Electronics and Computer Science, MailScanner processes over 500 million email messages every day around the world, removing 2 million viruses and identifying 75 million spam messages.

It is already in use at 20,000 sites around the world protecting top government departments, commercial corporations and educational institutions, including the University of Southampton itself, and is becoming a standard feature of many Internet Service Providers.

"In the current global climate, the possibility of cyberterrorism is an ever-growing threat and protection against viruses and other email-based attacks is now more important than ever before," explains Julian Field.

"The US Department of Homeland Security recognizes that the Internet is a core part of the economy and the US intelligence community has warned of the growing threat of cyberterrorism. By making MailScanner available to companies we hope to help reduce the spread of such attacks."

MailScanner scans all e-mail for viruses, spam and attacks against security vulnerabilities. It is not tied to any particular virus scanner, but can be used with any combination of 14 different virus scanners, allowing sites to choose the "best of breed" virus scanners. Being open source, site administrators can audit and verify the integrity of the system.

Notes for editors

  1. MailScanner is distributed free under the GNU Public Licence.
    - Scans email for viruses using any combination of up to 14 different virus scanners
    - Automatically updates all installed virus scanners every hour, by default
    - Identifies over 95 per cent of spam using several techniques, including highly advanced heuristics
    - Spam can be tagged, rejected, discarded, archived or forwarded to other addresses for inspection by administrators
    - Pornographic spam can be stripped of all graphical content, protecting users from obscene content
    - Scans email for attacks against known and unknown security vulnerabilities in popular email applications, automatically correcting messages "on the fly" whenever possible and quarantining dangerous sections of other messages
    - Highly scalable: 1 PC can process over 1.5 million email messages per day- Robust: Protects itself against "Denial of Service" attacks and operating system resource leaks
    - Highly configurable, providing ISPs and ASPs with the possibility of using thousands of different rules and configurations for any combination of users or domains
    - Easy to set up as all configuration options are supplied with "sensible" defaults
    To find out more, visit the web site at or contact the team directly at
  2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £235 million.
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