REDMOND, Wash. — May 26, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. today announced new MSN® Hotmail® tools and services designed to expand e-mail industry collaboration in fighting spam — MSN Postmaster and Smart Network Data Services. These new services complement ongoing industry efforts supported by Microsoft, including e-mail authentication mechanisms such as the Sender ID Framework, to help protect MSN Hotmail customers as well as the overall e-mail community from online safety concerns such as spam, phishing and viruses.
New Tools Against Spam
Central to the effort by MSN Hotmail to engage with the e-mail community is the launch of the new MSN Postmaster Web site, an online resource available in 10 languages worldwide designed to help bulk e-mailers, Internet service providers (ISPs), e-mail service providers and others better understand issues and solutions around sending e-mail to users of the MSN Hotmail Web-based e-mail service. MSN Postmaster offers up-to-date information and tools addressing a range of issues, including helping fight junk e-mail, improving delivery of legitimate bulk e-mail messages, streamlining the reporting of e-mail abuse and assisting with troubleshooting.
As part of MSN Postmaster, Microsoft is also introducing a preview release of Smart Network Data Services in English. With the new service, ISPs will be able to contribute to the fight against spam and protect e-mail as a valued communications tool. Smart Network Data Services reports on a variety of characteristics of e-mail traffic sent to MSN Hotmail. For instance, an ISP can find out the volume of e-mail being sent from its IP space to MSN Hotmail, how that e-mail is impacted by MSN Hotmail spam filtering, and what percentage of its e-mail has been marked as spam by MSN Hotmail and MSN customers. ISPs in turn can take appropriate action, such as identifying and cleaning compromised machines, increasing the security measures for the host or network, or working with the party that sent the messages to determine if it is spam or legitimate e-mail.
“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. “With over 200 million active e-mail accounts worldwide, MSN Hotmail is in a unique position to collect and analyze e-mail activity data. Working together, MSN Hotmail and service providers can make their customers happier and more satisfied with the services we all provide.”
Enhanced Customer Protections
The industry information and tools offered by MSN Postmaster dovetail with existing Microsoft efforts implemented to help protect MSN Hotmail consumers from online safety concerns such as spam and phishing, including Sender ID and Microsoft® SmartScreen (TM) technology.
In January, MSN Hotmail implemented Sender ID, an e-mail authentication technology protocol championed by Microsoft and other industry leaders, that helps address the problem of domain spoofing. The technology continues to help enhance spam filtering and better protect customers’ inboxes while helping ensure that legitimate e-mail gets through. Sender ID, used in conjunction with Microsoft SmartScreen technology, has also been useful in helping protect MSN Hotmail customers from phishing scams. If an e-mail message comes in that appears to be a phishing attempt, it will not be delivered to consumers’ inboxes, but will instead be sent to their junk e-mail folder; MSN Hotmail will notify the customer that the “phishy” URL has been disabled to help protect them.
Microsoft continues to invest in Sender ID, and MSN in the coming months will make Sender ID “warning alert” notifications visible via a new safety bar in the MSN Hotmail user interface in 20 languages. The safety bar has been designed to alert customers to potential issues with received e-mails by displaying phrases such as, “The sender of this message could not be verified by Sender ID.” The alerts will provide customers with options to learn more about Sender ID with a single mouse click, as well as provide guidance on staying safe online.
More information about MSN Postmaster and Smart Network Data Services can be found at http://postmaster.msn.com and http://postmaster.msn.com/snds. More information about the Sender ID Framework can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/senderid and at http://www.emailauthentication.org.
For organizations looking to implement Sender ID themselves, Microsoft will be co-hosting the Email Authentication Implementation Summit 2005 on July 12 with three dozen other industry leaders to help provide information and best-practice recommendations for implementing e-mail authentication mechanisms such as Sender ID. More information can be found at http://emailauthentication.org/summit2005.
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