Microsoft Offers Technology Designed to Help Protect Inboxes From Spam

LAS VEGAS, Nov. 17, 2003 — Microsoft Corp. today announced at COMDEX Las Vegas 2003 that as part of the company’s coordinated anti-spam effort, its spam-filtering SmartScreen Technology will be deployed across Microsoft’s e-mail platforms. Developed by Microsoft® Research, early versions of SmartScreen Technology have already been introduced in Outlook® 2003, MSN® 8 and Hotmail®
and will soon be available in a new add-on for Exchange Server 2003 called Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter.

SmartScreen Technology is designed to provide the latest anti-spam filtering innovations to products and tools that help protect corporate and private e-mail users from the growing deluge of spam, typically defined as unsolicited, unwanted e-mail, and more specifically defined by Microsoft as unsolicited bulk or unsolicited commercial e-mail. This patented technology is based on a machine-learning approach, where decisions regarding whether e-mail would be considered spam are made by e-mail customers themselves and then incorporated into a feedback loop to train the filter to know what to look for. Hundreds of thousands of Hotmail subscribers have volunteered to classify millions of e-mail messages as legitimate or as spam, generating more than 500,000 characteristics of spam that the SmartScreen Technology can track. With the Exchange Intelligent Message Filter, Exchange 2003 customers can score each incoming e-mail message for spam probability according to these characteristics and can use that score to help filter spam before it reaches the user’s inbox.

“Spam is our e-mail customers’ No. 1 complaint today, and while there is no single solution that will solve the problem by itself, Microsoft is committed to innovating and contributing on a broad spectrum of approaches to help put spammers out of business,” said Ryan Hamlin, general manager, Anti-Spam Technology and Strategy group at Microsoft. “This SmartScreen Technology is designed to help make spam easier to detect and more difficult to profit from, and to help maintain e-mail as a viable and valuable method of communication. With SmartScreen Technology, we can help provide a consistent and powerful anti-spam solution for the hundreds of millions of customers who use MSN, Hotmail, Office and Exchange.”

Recent industry estimates indicate that more than half of e-mail sent today is spam, putting a heavy strain on networks and wasting significant time, money and resources for consumers and businesses around the world. Spam is having a deep impact on e-mail use, as seen in a recent study from Pew Internet & American Life in which 52 percent of e-mail users said that spam has made them less trusting of e-mail in general, and 25 percent said that the ever-increasing volume of spam has reduced their overall use of e-mail. Spammers also often prey on less-sophisticated e-mail users, including children, and can pose genuine threats to personal security and privacy.

As part of a comprehensive effort to enhance e-mail protection, security, hygiene and productivity, Microsoft will soon offer new server-side anti-spam functionality powered by SmartScreen Technology to Exchange Server 2003 customers. The Exchange Intelligent Message Filter performs heuristics-based analysis of e-mail to determine whether any message is junk e-mail. The filter is intelligent and adapts over time, making it possible to constantly improve its ability to catch unwanted messages and prevent false positives. Having the Intelligent Message Filter deployed on the server can help prevent much unwanted e-mail from ever getting to a user’s inbox. Because the Intelligent Message Filter requires Exchange 2003, it provides a common Exchange administrative experience using Exchange Server Management tools. The Exchange Intelligent Message Filter will be available in the first half of 2004 to Microsoft customers that have licensed Exchange 2003 with Software Assurance.

“I look at the Intelligent Messaging Filter as one of a range of spam-blocking techniques in an organization’s arsenal,” said Paul Flessner, senior vice president of the Server Platform division at Microsoft. “It is designed to complement and extend the capabilities of filtering applications a company may already be using and allows partners to easily integrate with their anti-spam applications to help provide customers with greater protection.”

“As the spam problem grows, customers are looking for greater protection through technological solutions,” said Enrique Salem, CEO and president of Brightmail Inc., one of the leading providers of anti-spam technology working with Microsoft on several anti-spam initiatives. “Exchange Server has made it really easy for companies like ours to build complementary solutions for Microsoft e-mail products, giving customers the best tools available and the best overall protection from unwanted e-mail. The combination of Microsoft anti-spam capabilities with our highly effective and accurate anti-spam product can be very compelling to our mutual customers.”

These new e-mail protection and filtering capabilities build on recent security improvements made to Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 2003 that help to block both malicious content and spam at the gateway and client levels, thereby helping to put control of the inbox back into the hands of the users. Support for safe and block sender lists, domain spoofing and a range of other spam-blocking and -filtering techniques built into the core Exchange 2003 product allow information technology administrators to focus on maintaining a healthy network, thereby helping to keep end users more productive.

Exchange 2003 also was designed to better integrate with third-party products. The updated virus-scanning API (VSAPI version 2.5) and anti-spam tool with spam confidence level (SCL) properties enable partners to deliver more integrated and effective solutions. More information on Exchange anti-spam solutions can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/techinfo/security/antispam.asp and http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/imf/ .

Microsoft continues to invest heavily in anti-spam research and development and to look at innovative ways that technology can contribute to helping solve the spam problem. On a broader scale, Microsoft believes that it will take a coordinated approach that includes advanced technology, industry self-regulation, consumer education, effective legislation and targeted enforcement against illegal spammers to solve the spam problem. The company remains committed to working with customers, partners, industry, government and law enforcement around the world to help put an end to spam. More information on Microsoft’s overall anti-spam approach can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/newsroom/security/safety/ or http://www.microsoft.com/spam/ .

About Exchange Server 2003

Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 works with Windows Server (TM) 2003 and Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 to deliver best-in-class e-mail-based collaboration services that are highly secure, reliable and easy to access, enabling businesses to make decisions efficiently and compete more effectively. Exchange Server 2003 is part of the Windows Server System (TM) , Microsoft’s comprehensive, integrated and interoperable server infrastructure that simplifies the development, deployment and operation of agile business solutions. Exchange Server 2003 is also a key component in enabling information worker scenarios as part of the Microsoft Office System. More information on Exchange Server can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/ .

About Windows Server System

Microsoft Windows Server System is an integrated and interoperable server infrastructure that reduces IT complexity to enable IT professionals to deliver innovative solutions that meet the changing needs of business. With Windows Server 2003 at the foundation, Windows Server System is engineered from the ground up for XML Web services based on Microsoft .NET technologies to connect information, people, systems and devices. Based on a common software architecture that spans all facets of IT from design, development and deployment through ongoing management and usage, Windows Server System provides comprehensive IT infrastructure for operations (security, systems management, networked storage), applications (data management and analysis, e-business) and information work (messaging, communications and collaboration). More information on Microsoft Windows Server System can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/ .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

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