Microsoft Fights Spam at the Source

In its continuing fight against unsolicited commercial e-mail, Microsoft plans to filter outgoing messages on its consumer mail services and is busy developing new "proofing" technologies, the software maker's chief spam fighter says. The fight is also one against the clock. Microsoft last year set a two-year goal to make spam a problem of the past. There are 19 months left, says Ryan Hamlin, general manager of Microsoft's Security Technology & Strategy group, speaking at this week's INBOX, a conference on e-mail in San Jose, California.

More than 14.5 billion spam messages are sent each day, according to Hamlin, who cites figures from antispam vendor Brightmail. Microsoft's Hotmail Web-based e-mail service receives 2.7 billion spam messages a day, Hamlin says. As part of its efforts to stop spam, Microsoft in the coming months plans to apply spam filters not only to incoming mail on its Hotmail and MSN services, but also to outbound mail. The filtering will kick in when users send a large number of messages and is intended to help stop abuse of Microsoft's services by senders of spam, Hamlin says. He called out to ISPs and other e-mail service providers to do the same. "All of the ISPs and large senders of mail need to be filtering on the outbound side," he says. "There is a lot of abuse happening. We need to have better outbound filtering to look for people that are abusing our systems."

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