Microsoft Steps Up Spam Fight

Microsoft on Thursday announced two new services aimed at curbing the ever-increasing amounts of spam making its way into MSN Hotmail customers' inboxes. Called MSN Postmaster and Smart Network Data Services, together the services will both ensure legitimate bulk e-mail makes it to Hotmail customers, as well as add an extra line of defense against unwanted spam.

Available in 10 languages, the MSN Postmaster web site will act as a virtual clearinghouse for information on issues and solutions regarding sending e-mail to subscribers of Hotmail. It will also help users to report cases of abuse and aid to troubleshoot issues with sending mail to the service.

With the release of Postmaster comes a preview release of Smart Network Data Services. The application will let an ISP see how much mail is being sent to Hotmail, as well as what percentage is being marked as spam. Through this feature, an ISP will be able to find out what machines may be either compromised, or uncover users that are abusing their accounts to send out unsolicited e-mail.

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"MSN Postmaster and Smart Data Network Services represent a move by Microsoft toward broader, more-comprehensive and transparent information-sharing with ISPs and e-mail senders to help protect e-mail and ensure that it continues to be an essential and valuable communications tool," said Kevin Doerr, product unit manager for MSN Hotmail at Microsoft.

The new services complement an existing Microsoft technology called Sender ID, which Hotmail implemented in January. The service acts as a way to prevent domain spoofing. When the Hotmail detects a legitimate Sender ID, it will allow the mail to go through; if it cannot identify a Sender ID, or has reasons to believe it is spam, it is sent to the user's junk mail folder.

Microsoft plans to make Sender ID more visible to consumers in an upcoming release of Hotmail, which it hopes will increase public awareness of the technology and push other providers to use it as well.

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