Feeds

Why is Hotmail so bad at spam?

Tell me why, I don't like Hotmail...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Column I'm trying very hard to be sympathetic towards Hotmail, and I'm failing, badly.

It's not the Microsoft connection that makes me fed up, it's just Hotmail.

Here's today's inbox:

From my contacts: 2 (2)
Marquita@viagra.com RE: Online Canadian Pharma...
admin@speedtrader.co... RE: Daily News

If you believe I have a contact called Marquita at viagra dot com, you're mad. I can't think of a single email provider who would not intercept ANY mail from that address and shoot it on sight. Letting the mail through is a trivial blunder, however, compared with allowing such a person to claim "contact status" with me.

A list of contacts in Hotmail is a list of people you acknowledge as contacts. Not just someone who writes an email saying; "I'm a contact!" in a bright cheerful voice, but someone whose credentials have been checked and validated by you.

In my inbox are some choice emails. One is from GIRLS WANNABE <girslwannaotjllluv288@yahoo.com>

Yes, Girls Wannabe - not in any way an unlikely name for a legitimate email sender, you're bound to agree? An offer of a Spanish camp for adolescents. All looks pretty innocent...I'm not going there to find out whether it is.

I have a letter from <admin@newloto.com> which may well be information about my recent enrichment. One more lottery win. I wouldn't know where to put the money if they were all legitimate.

Again, you'd think any spam service worth a damn would choke straight away on the word "loto" before it spotted the content. You'd certainly think it would recognise the content, because it's perfectly obvious that this was not sent just to me personally, but to a million recipients.

Then there's the message which begins: "gu?i quy?t d?nh vi?c n?m b?t hay không co h?i dó là tu?i tr? chúng ta. Thang giá tr? s?ng b? d?o l?n thì chúng ta ph?i l?p l?i. Khi phong bì tràn ng?p công s?, d? b? vào c? gi?ng du?ng và b?nh vi?n, thì l?p tr? chúng ta cùng si?t tay, d?n du?i t? n?n d?n t?n cùng."

It rather goes downhill from there, but again, any ordinary human would be able to detect this as spam, and an email provider as big as Microsoft Hotmail really ought not to have problems with it.

Hotmail also failed to recognise a known spam service provider, Lemuel Q Turner <ClevelandLidia@aera.net> who offered me marketing services to the US medical community, with a couple of sample deals:

Physicians: 700 thousand doctors in the US. Data is provided in Excel format and sortable by state or specialty. Over a dozen different fields and more than 30 specialties. Individual Cost: $349

Hospital Admins: 23 thousand in all with data for the CEO, CFO, CIO, COO and more Individual Cost: $220

Again, you can't believe that a functioning spam filter would let this junk through. But it did.

OK, you'll have got the message. It's clear that Hotmail is doing its duty to deliver emails to people, if there's any possibility at all that they might be legitimate. It's taking the view that if it filters too strictly, people will get on its case for filtering out legitimate business communications, and setting its target high enough that only the most obvious spam will get trapped.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Reddit users discover iOS malware threat
'Unflod Baby Panda' looks to snatch Apple IDs
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.