Feeds

Hotmail's antispam measures snuff out legit emails, too

No warning, little recourse

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Microsoft representatives say the upsurge in spam - which they estimate to be about 40 per cent in the past year - has forced them to employ new techniques to safeguard Hotmail users and infrastructure. Once upon a time, messages were flagged largely based on the domain that sent it (e.g. Cyberpromotions.com) and by keywords - (think "get rich quick") that were embedded in them. With the growing use of image spam and botnets used to blast them to every corner of the globe, Microsoft has had to employ additional measures.

"The rules of deliverability have really changed," says Brian Holdsworth, senior product planner for Microsoft safety technologies, a group that is responsible for fending off the spam menace. "It's no longer just me, my email address and the domain I own. It's where I'm hosting it at and the reputation of my host."

Holdsworth was unfamiliar with Firth's case, but he speculates Firth's domain may be blocked because the provider hosting it may be home to a large number of infected machines. In such cases, all sites sitting on top of the host can be affected. Microsoft provides a service that allows hosts to review the reputation assigned to them by SmartScreen. (The service is not available to customers such as Firth.)

Microsoft representatives say they are making important progress in combating spam, having reduced the amount of junk mail landing in inboxes by half in the past year. What's more, of about 5bn messages sent to Hotmail users daily, as many as 4.5bn are spam. They say they are committed to resolving the problems such as Firth's and add that most large email providers are struggling with the same issues.

Perhaps, but according to Dominic Ryan, who runs a website called IIS-Aid, other providers do a better job. Ryan found that email his site tried to send to users with Hotmail addresses was also getting blocked, and he got to wondering how many other services might block his domain. So he set up a simple test in which he sent an identical email to accounts with ten different services.

Only one account - you can probably guess from which provider - failed to receive it.

"I have basically given up on Hotmail support," says Ryan, whose credentials include being a three-time Microsoft IIS MVP. He now bans the use of Hotmail addresses for users registering on his site and sends an automated response to those sending messages to fellow users with Hotmail accounts warning that the dispatches will probably not get through.

Of course, the biggest friendly-fire casualties in Microsoft's war on spam are the Hotmail users whose legitimate emails are killed before ever landing in their inbox. Firth and Ryan have been working diligently to alert these individuals to the problem, but so far they're warnings have gone unheeded. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things
Grass is greener in Asia, say the sensors
Ofcom sees RISE OF THE MACHINE-to-machine cell comms
Study spots 9% growth in IoT m2m mobile data connections
O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge
No, the spooks love US best, say rival firms
Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM
Networks' main issue: they don't know how it works, says expert
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.