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Hotmail not immune to viruses

January 28, 2001

The Hotmail virus scanner appears to be at least six versions behind. informed both Microsoft and McAfee about the vulnerability we had uncovered, so that they could update the virus definitions on the Hotmail servers. McAfee claims the problem is Microsoft's fault. According to a spokesperson for McAfee, Microsoft refuses to implement new virus updates.

Michiel Goossens of Microsoft The Netherlands reported the problem to Microsoft USA immediately after our report. Six days later, nothing has changed: today at 11 am, the Hotmail virus scanner was still unable to intercept the Emmanuel-virus.

The virus is causing a lot of trouble worldwide. has received reports about virus breaches in several systems. Hotmail users who rely on the inbuilt virus scanner might be in for a surprise.

The Emmanuel virus does not cause any serious damage, but the Prolin virus might. It is not impossible that it too goes undetected by the Hotmail antivirus software.

McAfee released Version 41.5 of its software, which can intercept Emmanuel, last November. In the meantime, McAfee is at Version 4.15. Licensees can immediately download updates from the McAfee website.

According to Sal Viveros, spokesperson for Network Associates and McAfee in Europe, the willingness of Hotmail to update its virus scanner has been a problem ever since the partnership started three years ago.

Ruud Boxma,


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