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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Random executions: Hotmail gets tough on spam

Well, hotmail may well be getting tough on spam. It's also getting tough on people like Andrew Williamson:

I recently had a hotmail account cancelled despite having done nothing with it except use it as a reply address from usenet. I never sent one email with it.

I got notice that it had been cancelled for violation of TOS and despite numerous emails asking for an explanation, none were ever forthcoming. Eventually, even their auto-responder stopped responding.

Bastards.

Never mind, eh? So, how well does this spam killing work? Denis Dupeyron decided to do a quick experiment:

I just read your story, and what's funny is last night I did a quick test using hotmail. I registered using the nickname my wife uses to call me. I unchecked the 2 boxes that were going to put me on whatever list (can't remember their name anymore, probably of the internet white pages kind), and didn't activate the anti-spam stuff. My idea was to see if it could remain spam free, and how long I could keep it this way. This was the last thing I did last night before going to bed quite late (around 1AM).

First thing I did this morning was to check my new e-mail account (at around 8:30). There already were 10 spam messages. I turned on the anti-spam gadget right away. I got another spam, unfiltered, this afternoon, the 'bulk messages' directory being empty.

Conclusion: if you use hotmail you'll get spammed (wether you give your address to anybody or not), and the anti-spam feature hardly works.

The word 'useless' comes to mind...

And where is all this spam coming from? Take it away Chris Comley:

I note that 90% of the Spam I'm currently receiving into my hotmail account which is NOT trapped by Hotmail's "spamtrap" inbox protector claims to have been sent from an @msn.com address.

Surely even if this is a fake-from, since MSN is also under MS's control, they could easily tweak the Hotmail core servers to check if the real source is MSN or not and kill?

Who knows. Do they really care? I do hate getting a "your mailbox is too full, clear it up or we'll delete stuff at random" type mail from hotmail admin when the bulk of the stuff is the spam - even the spam that's been moved to th "bulk mail" folder triggers this. I shall certainly see red if they delete stuff at random from my inbox rather than zapping the spam.

I will say in favour of their "Inbox protector" that in so far as I've checked I've never caught them putting a "real" mail into the "bulkmail" folder.

Have fun...

You think you've got problems? Lee Meadows was ill-advised enough to try the Hotmail support staff:

I too have been on the receiving end of Hotmail's helpful support staff. About 2 years ago I went away for a 2 week holiday and came back to find that my inbox was full of spam (not so unusual), and an email from a friend with a huge attachment. In there was also a "time to clean out you email" message from Hotmail kindly explaining that if it wasn't done various emails would be deleted (none of them spam though!).

Naturally, the deadline date had already passed and my messages were deleted. After various emails to support, I gave up and accepted the loss. Hotmail had told me that there was "nothing they could do" (even after suggesting recovery from backups etc.).

Now, in the spirit of the Vulture Central Mailbag, we have 'hmm mmm'. He presents a counter-argument:

I once worked in the abuse department for a free web page hosting company that boasted over 1 million active accounts. Let me first say that this work blackens your heart and destroys everything good and decent in your sole. What is left is a rotten shell of a person bent on the destruction of those who anger them. And there are so many. Script kiddies from Japan who trade kiddie porn and overload the servers with chat scripts. Dickheads who buy "14 MILLION email addresses for only $99.99" and spam everyone without remorse because "they hate spam, but *I* didn't spam, Bob told me it was legal". The hundreds of narcs that write in bitching and complaining that "My children have seen this and I'm upset", with the return address of younglust99@hotmail.com. These narc emails are often the worst, incomprehensible emails you can imagine.

My point here is with all of this email/complaints/abuse issues and general anarchy why is it that you want a human to respond? Why is it that people threaten to sue? Why is it that people expect so much over something that's FREE, GODDAMNIT!!!

Its a free service, yes hotmail and msn do some bad things, their controlled by MS, what do you expect? But all the bitching in the world won't get hotmail to hire more staff, won't get them to pay more attention to some simple complaint. The fact is that there is much more work that the staff can handle in abuse departments. So the only way to get ANY work done is to send a standard form email. Change it a little for a complaint but how the hell can anyone expect them to read all the complaints in full, then enter a personalized and professional email to every response.

These email farms are regulated by stats, the raw amount of email that gets processed per shift. If its low, for any reason well you can loose the 12 bucks an hour that they pay you.

I will close with the following remarks, that I have shouted over and over during this position:

IT'S FREE, FREE DAMNIT!! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU EXPECT? YOU BUY THE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLAR A MONTH INTERNET CONNECTION! THE SERVERS, THE STAFF AND DEVELOP AN INTERFACE!! FREE FREE FREE!!!!!!!

Steady on, old boy. Haven't you ever heard the phrase 'you don't get owt for nowt'?

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