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Galaxynet :: Phaegis Anti-virus

Phaegis Status Page ( bytes KB)

Dictionary Definition

phaegis (fay'jis), n. 1. jargon, concatenation of 'phage' and 'aegis', from 'virus' and the Greek via Latin 'shield' of Zeus. 2. The Phaegis email anti-virus system developed by Galaxynet Internet Services for the protection of its clients and the Internet in general from the destructive effects of email viruses.

Welcome to Phaegis

There are a number of important issues regarding the deployment of email virus scanning by an ISP: many of them are not readily apparent.

This page is intended to provide additional information including email availability issues, limitations, policies and procedures.

The most common method of computer virus transmission today is via Internet email file attachments. Currently, and into the foreseeable future, the growth of viruses spread via email continues to burgeon. More and more viruses of almost every type continue to be developed by malicious, irresponsible people.

Given the skyrocketing popularity of the Internet, especially by "entry-level" computer users, we at Galaxynet consider it unconscionable to stand by and do nothing in the defense of our clients regarding the threat of email viruses. Many of them are inexperienced and even naive regarding the "everyday hazards" of computer networking: in defense of them in particular, our clients in toto, and the Internet in general, we have decided to weigh-in on the side of The Good Guys.

Normally, the only defense against computer viruses is to purchase a copy of a commercial virus scanning-and-cleaning program from companies such as McAfee or Norton, and running these programs diligently.

Well, Galaxynet has developed our own defense against email viruses sent to or from Galaxynet customers via Galaxynet email accounts.

We've dubbed it Phaegis (fay'jis), from the Greek "Phage Aegis" (meaning "Virus Shield").

Phaegis Overview

Phaegis scans all incoming and outgoing email file attachments for over 60,000 known types of viruses, trojans and variants before the email gets delivered to the recipient.

Phaegis' virus scanning database of virus signatures is updated as quickly as the professionals at NAI Associates (McAfee) update their own virus signature database(s). It is automatically updated as soon as those updates are released, without the need for ANY manual intervention.

The Phaegis system consists of a suite of software tools implemented on Galaxynet's various email servers. Partly developed by Galaxynet, partly developed by the leaders of the anti-virus industry and fully integrated by Galaxynet, Phaegis uses the most robust, accurate and up-to-date virus scanning software by NAI (owners of McAfee, the industry leader in anti-virus scanning software) to scan for any viruses transiting Galaxynet's email servers as file attachments. Coupled with Galaxynet's unique SCA (Scan, Control, and Alert) system, we integrated them to form Phaegis.

As emails are delivered to Galaxynet's email servers, Phaegis uses our SCA system to process the email thusly:

1. Phaegis accepts the email and examines it immediately.
2. The virus scanner is invoked, and reports the status (virus detected? Yes or No) to Phaegis.
3. If the email is "clean", Phaegis then delivers the email normally.
4. If the email is "infected", Phaegis immediately does the following:
      A. Phaegis generates an email to the sender and the recipient.
      B. Phaegis notifies Galaxynet administration of the virus report.
      C. Phaegis deletes the infected email ENTIRELY.

Galaxynet's Phaegis system helps protect your computer from viruses infecting email attachments in four major ways:

  1. It stops infected emails sent to your Galaxynet email account(s), identifies the detected virus and alerts you of the details.
  2. It alerts you if your computer attempts to transmit a virus to others via your Galaxynet email account(s).
  3. Phaegis also protects non-Galaxynet Internet users by preventing the spread of viruses via email from any infected Galaxynet customer's computer.
  4. Phaegis alerts both the sender AND the recipient of any infected email it intercepts, including the details of the type of virus(es) it detected.

In short, if Phaegis detects a virus in the file attachment, it does NOT deliver the infected email or attachment(s). Instead, Phaegis sends out emails to both the sender and recipient, alerting them that an infected email was intercepted and telling them the type of virus detected.

In this manner, the sender is alerted that their system is infected by a specific "email virus" and can take measures to correct the problem. As a bonus, it also lets each person know why an email never showed up at its destination.

If your computer has an email-type virus, simply sending an email to yourself will invoke Phaegis' detection process. Galaxynet encourages everyone to use our system for detection of email viruses.

Phaegis Issues & Limitations

There are some potentially sensitive issues involved with the decision by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to develop and deploy an automated email scanning process, no matter how benign.

The Fine-print lawyer-ese

1. In no manner shall Galaxynet be held liable for any virus(es) that infect(s) your computer(s), up to and including viruses received via email from Galaxynet. Phaegis is a free, community-oriented service we employ 'gratis' as a member of the Internet community, and in the best interests of our clients. The responsibility for the detection and proper elimination of computer viruses rests solely with the user/operator/owner of any computer using Galaxynet's system.

2. In no manner shall Galaxynet intentionally allow any automated system we implement to violate our Privacy Policy. The Phaegis System we have developed is used for one purpose only: the prevention of emails infected by viruses, trojans, and variants from being delivered to Galaxynet clients specifically, and other Internet users in general from any Galaxynet account.

3. Phaegis does not scan, probe, or otherwise attempt to detect any information from the text of the email nor the file attachments. It singly and specifically scans for known virus signatures in the email and attachments. It scans all emails for viruses with no regard for the title, content, or file names encountered. Plainly put, Galaxynet's Phaegis system only does the following:

  1. Look for "signatures" of viruses in email file attachments.
  2. Scan suspected files for viruses, worms, trojans and variants.
  3. Pass the email to the intended recipient if Phaegis "passes" the file.
  4. Stop the entire email "dead" if a virus is detected.
  5. Send email notices to the sender, intended recipient, and Galaxynet administration of the email interception, virus identified, and general information of resources to be consulted for solutions.

4. In no manner shall Galaxynet be held liable because Galaxynet's Phaegis or other such scanning systems fail to deliver an email and/or attachments detected as "infected". In other words, no part of an infected email -- that means the file attachment, and the email itself -- will be delivered to the recipient. That email is destroyed by Phaegis. It cannot be recovered, saved, stored, or redelivered.

5. Galaxynet is under no obligation whatsoever to allow the transmission of any demonstrably harmful content, material or other such "entities" across its network. In the same manner that no reasonable person would allow a person infected with tuberculosis to walk around a cocktail party, Galaxynet will not be party to knowingly or willfully transmitting a known virus, etc., by anyone for any reason excepting solely for system testing, detection and debugging purposes by professionals, and then ONLY at the sole discretion of Galaxynet management.

Go see the virus professionals

Given over 60,000 known viruses, there is no way that any ISP can possibly provide detailed technical assistance for any specific virus "infection". Please, consult the good guys at McAfee or Symantec; we just can't do it...

McAfee provides one of the finest anti-virus software in the industry, as does Norton Anti-Virus by Symantec. They are the undisputed leaders in anti-virus development.

Other limitations of Phaegis

  1. Phaegis only protects your Galaxynet email account when accessing it directly from Galaxynet's email servers. It does not protect your email on Hotmail, Yahoo, My Netscape, Bigfoot, etc., no matter how you have your computer configured.
  2. If your computer is infected with a virus that propogates itself via email, you won't be able to use your email program on your computer to send email via your Galaxynet account! You must either "clean" and "disinfect" your computer of the virus, or use our Webmail system to send email. Those are your only choices.
  3. If a person with whom you regularly correspond has the virus on their end, you will NOT be able to receive email from that person at your Galaxynet account, using Webmail or not, until that person has taken the steps necessary to ensure the virus is no longer transmitting via email. Frankly, we believe it is irresponsible to seriously consider not taking appropriate action after being professionally notified of a computer virus, which is the primary function of Phaegis.
  4. It is not practicable at all, nor can we entertain any appeal, to be considered "exempt" from the Phaegis system. All email, including all of Galaxynet's staff, is examined by Phaegis and rejected if the email is found "infected". There are no provisions in place, nor do we expect them to be implemented at any time in the future, to provide any exceptions or exemptions to Phaegis' oversight.

Summary

Galaxynet has gotten off the "cowards' seat" so many ISPs are forced to sit upon, and taken a stand against the spread of computer viruses.

We have developed Phaegis, an email scanning suite that looks for email viruses in any and all email being transmitted to or from Galaxynet. It transmits the sender of the infected email and the intended recipient of same an email notification that the infected email was intercepted, and includes the identity of the virus detected. The infected email is then entirely deleted.

Galaxynet's Phaegis system now scans ALL incoming and outgoing emails for viruses using the most advanced and current virus scanning software. It stops ANY and ALL email that it determines is infected with a virus, without regard to the location, "status", or identity of the sender or intended recipient, nor the priority assigned to the email.

While we are dead certain some smart-aleck barracks lawyer could claim that it is someone's God-given right to send and receive emails infected with viruses if they so choose, or that it is none of our business if their computer is infected. We disagree. No one has the right to indiscriminately hazard the personal property of others.

No reasonable person wants to risk getting an email virus. Galaxynet is willing and able to virtually prevent it from happening to begin with, and we're going to do it for you for free!

We have fielded numerous tech support calls over the years regarding this very problem, despite the fact that we do not generate these viruses nor are we in the business of developing countermeasures. We, like many of you, rely on professionally developed software running on individual computers to help protect us against computer viruses.

What we have done with the development of Phaegis is to build a shield to help protect ALL of us, most especially our customers. It helps protect both the responsible and irresponsible equally: it scans all email whether you have a personal virus checker or not. It relieves no one of the responsibility to keep their computers virus-free, yet Phaegis tremendously reduces the possibility of getting one via their Galaxynet email account.

Everyone is at least protected now, if not made truly invulnerable. Nothing ever developed by humans is perfect: in this case, the imperfection is a lack of choice in the matter regarding the use of Phaegis at Galaxynet.

To those folks who currently use our services and believe that Phaegis is an unacceptable and intolerable solution, we would like take this opportunity to thank you for your past business. There are thousands of ISPs in the United States who care about their customers less than we do, and we are certain they would appreciate your business in the future.

If you've ever watched the science fiction classic "The Day The Earth Stood Still", you will understand if we think of Phaegis as "Gort". Gort was the robot whose one and only mission was to prevent violence. No one was exempt.

Phaegis' only function is to prevent the spread of computer viruses via email. No one is exempt, not even the staff and owners of Galaxynet.

We sincerely hope you enjoy the additional level of security our Phaegis system will provide you, exclusively here at Galaxynet.