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Trend Micro bug preys on "P"

The company quickly releases an update after a new rule in antispam software inadvertently blocks all incoming and outgoing e-mail containing the letter "P."

Trend Micro's antispam software recently took issue with the letter "P."

A bug, which appeared in an antispam rule update, began blocking and quarantining all incoming and outgoing messages containing the letter "P," depending on how customers had configured the software. The flaw affected a Trend Micro product designed to filter content, block unsolicited commercial e-mail, and report and monitor the type of information that enters or leaves a company's network.

The problem affected Cupertino, Calif.-based Trend Micro's eManager product, an e-mail security product. A company representative said the number of customers who reported being affected was in the low double digits.

The problem occurred in rule No. 915, which updates antispam parameters. The security firm quickly released a fix with rule No. 916 and posted it to its site Tuesday. Rule No. 915 was available for only an hour and a half before Trend Micro issued rule No. 916.

Spam is considered one of the biggest drawbacks of Internet communications, wreaking havoc on computer users and on Internet service providers whose systems are inundated by messages. In effect, spam depreciates the value of e-mail by flooding it with an enormous volume of pornographic and get-rich-quick solicitations.

Antispam rules are updated frequently to keep pace with spammers who routinely fool filters by tweaking the contents, addresses and subject lines of their messages.