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Contributing Writer

Microsoft takes on spammers

Jun 24, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMalwareMicrosoft

* Microsoft sets the lawyers on spammers who prey on Hotmail

Last week, Microsoft did something that turned industry heads: the company used its legal eagles to go after spammers. Microsoft filed 15 lawsuits against what it believes to be known spammers here and abroad. The intent is to thwart the rampant harvesting of Hotmail accounts.

The spammers, in order to develop a pretty lush list, hit the Hotmail servers with combinations of numbers and letters that might form e-mail addresses. They’ve been pretty successful at developing lush lists this way that they can use to gain money over the Internet.

For Microsoft, these “attacks” pose problems on several fronts: a) they overwhelm the servers and b) they decrease the value of Hotmail accounts for users – especially if they have to sift through mounds of spam to get to “real” messages.

The attacks also wreak havoc on the Hotmail brand, as it is being associated with spam.

For Microsoft, the suits are a way to alleviate all these woes. If it goes after the problem at the root and shows that there are damages to be suffered for this type of spamming, it hopes to deter other spammers from doing the same.

Microsoft is also putting pressure on legislators to put laws into effect that would discourage spamming.  In an essay posted on its Web site, Microsoft officials wrote, “… new, strong laws are needed. At a minimum, senders should not be allowed to misrepresent their identity, falsify the subject of a message, or use automated means to gather e-mail addresses without the owners’ consent.”

Finally, Microsoft is also working to create stronger filters that would weed out all types of spam. In the same essay, the officials at the software maker said, “Government, industry and consumers working together can stem the tide of spam, protect legitimate commercial e-mailers as well as consumers, and preserve the communications network that sustains the digital economy.”

What do you think? With Microsoft in the ring against spammers, will the problem be closer to being annihilated? Let me know at