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True IT blooper #67: A verse on virus vulnerability

An IT pro waxes poetic about viruses lurking within a copy of an Outlook PST file.

An IT pro waxes poetic about viruses lurking within a copy of an Outlook PST file.

Dear Windows Manageability Blooper Crew, I'm back with another tale of woe for you.

A client of mine thought it'd be fine To make a copy of his Outlook PST file or two.

We then loaded it onto a spare PC And loaded up antivirus (demanded by me) And I left him with his work to do.

He ran it for a bit and called me in a snit 'Cause his computer had slowed to a crawl.

I went to where it was tabled His AV was no longer enabled In fact it wasn't working at all.

So I checked online and downloaded fine An online AV check available to all.

I tested his rig The virus count was big 24 infected files was the call.

The viruses had evidently been hiding The Outlook PST file insiding, The copy had messages, good, bad - all.

It turns out the AV checks only on download Not on email message access, Which made my friend want to bawl.

So the lesson to be learned Is that viruses may not be spurned If they're already in your email store.

So scan EVERYTHING first Before the viruses burst Loose upon the floor.

The gist of this blooper is that working on a copy of an Outlook PST file doesn't mean it has no viruses, only that they aren't active. You must scan everything, including the email store BEFORE you start working with the messages there to keep from being infected. By the way, we were using Norton AV 2003 and it has otherwise worked fine. I always assumed it checked email as you opened it but it seems to actually look at it only upon download, not upon opening a message. Big difference in susceptibility/vulnerability!

I can understand the choice not to scan for viruses on opening mail when they have already supposedly scanned it upon download, but this blooper does show a hole in that theory of operation.

Share your bloopers with us. E-mail them to Read more of our past IT Blooper Series, which originially appeared at, part of the TechTarget network.

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