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VPOP3 Antivirus

For many years now we have been selling “avast! for VPOP3” as our low cost antivirus software for scanning emails as they pass through VPOP3. At the end of 2012, Avast are stopping supporting their version 4 virus scanning engine, which VPOP3 uses. This means that the “avast! for VPOP3” solution will stop updating after the end of 2012.

We have spent the year so far trying to find an alternative, including re-licensing a more recent version of the avast! virus scanning engine, or looking for alternative providers. Unfortunately, we have been unable to do so at a suitable price point. We already have the Sophos SAV Interface and MailScan for VPOP3 solutions for higher prices than “avast! for VPOP3”, so we have not felt it would be beneficial to offer another antivirus solution at similar prices to those.

We will continue looking for an alternative low cost antivirus engine we could use, but for now we have decided to use the popular open-source ClamAV antivirus engine and create a plugin for VPOP3 to access this. This has allowed us to have a replacement for avast! for VPOP3 from the end of 2012.

The VPOP3 Antivirus offering is even cheaper than “avast! for VPOP3” was, so hopefully more people will take advantage of this fact to add an extra layer of virus scanning to their networks.

Note that we have always recommended having a desktop virus scanner on each user’s PC as the first priority, then an email gateway virus scanner adds an extra layer of protection. The email gateway virus scanner should never be the only protection, since there are other ways for viruses to enter the network.

To use the VPOP3 Antivirus solution you will need VPOP3 v5.0g or later, or VPOP3 v4.0g. These versions have fixes to the antivirus plugin API in VPOP3 which allow it to work properly.

I have tried to answer a few questions people may have below.

Why isn’t the VPOP3 Antivirus free, since ClamAV is?

ClamAV is open source, but we have had to write a plugin to interface between VPOP3 and ClamAV to make it work with minimal effort. This plugin, and the support for it, is what you are paying for.

ClamAV is licenced under the GPL – does this mean we can get the source code to VPOP3 now, since the GPL is ‘viral’?

No. VPOP3 does not link into the ClamAV licences at all. The VPOP3 AV plugin launches a slightly modified version of ‘clamd’ (the ‘ClamAV Daemon’) and then communicates with that using a documented TCP/IP protocol. This means that VPOP3 and ClamAV areĀ separate programs, so the GPL does not ‘cross’ that divide. We can send you the source code for the slightly modified version of clamd if you wish, but it probably won’t be that useful (the only difference is a slight change to the file data being scanned to try to avoid conflicts with other antivirus programs running on the VPOP3 computer)

Can I try to make VPOP3 talk to ClamAV myself, and do it for free?

You are free to do this, but we can’t support you doing this under our free support. If you want to write your own plugin DLL, we can send you the antivirus plugin API documentation.

Why can’t we use our existing desktop virus scanner?

Most desktop antivirus programs are licensed for use by one person, so using them to scan mail on a mail server may be breaching the license conditions.

Also, it can be quite tricky linking a virus scanner to VPOP3, so it would probably not be as easy as you may think…

Why don’t you support XYZ virus scanner?

We have to arrange licensing terms with the virus scanner publishers, and get details of their API (if they have one). This can be quite a lengthy process.
Also, the licensing terms for mail server virus scanning usually involve licensing the software for the number of users being protected (not for the ‘one PC’ which it is running on). This can make it quite expensive to buy the run-time licenses for the customers. Usually this means that it is no cheaper than the MailScan or Sophos SAV Interface virus scanners we already support.
It can cost thousands of pounds to produce the virus scanner integration for a new virus scanner engine (including the ClamAV one), so we need to be reasonably confident we will be able to recover that cost. If there is no ‘USP’ of the new scanner, it is unlikely we’d be able to do this.

I want you to support XYZ virus scanner, I’ve already got a licence for it on my PC, so it won’t cost me a lot

See the previous two answers

I’ve currently got avast! for VPOP3 which is coming up for renewal soon, what happens now?

When we send out the renewal notice, we will give you the prices for the VPOP3 Antivirus, MailScan for VPOP3 and Sophos SAV Interface.
If you choose to go with the VPOP3 Antivirus, you will need to make sure you have VPOP3 4.0f or VPOP3 5.0g or later, and then download and install the software, then, in VPOP3, go to Settings -> Antivirus, and change the antivirus engine to ‘VPOP3 Antivirus’, and that’s it

I’ve already renewed avast! for VPOP3 this year, what happens?

Earlier in the year, we were hoping to be able to continue with avast! for VPOP3 after this year, so we took renewals as normal. Unfortunately this wasn’t possible, so we have been left with the situation where some people have purchased a licence for something we cannot provide.
So, we have three options, which we hope will be acceptable to everyone.
  1. We can convert the “avast! for VPOP3” subscription, into a “VPOP3 Antivirus” subscription. The length of this will be adjusted to take into account the different costs of these subscriptions
  2. We can convert the “avast! for VPOP3” subscription, into a “VPOP3 Antivirus” subscription of the same length, and refund the extra amount which was paid.
  3. We can refund the remainder of the avast! for VPOP3″ subscription from the end of 2012
For all of these, we will assume that the ‘changeover’ time is at the end of 2012, because you can continue to use avast! for VPOP3 up until then.

I only have a licence for VPOP3 1.x, 2.x or 3.x, what can I do?

The VPOP3 Antivirus software needs version 4.x or later, so will not work with these early versions.
If you have one of the earlier versions, then, obviously, you could upgrade to the current version, or you could use the MailScan for VPOP3 or Sophos SAV Interface software instead, which will work with all versions of VPOP3.
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