MSN Launches Spam-Fighting Services

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E-mail marketing firms were pleased with yesterday's news that Microsoft launched services to help ISPs fight spam and phishing.

"We applaud Microsoft for this latest major initiative to provide critical feedback to reputable senders," said Al DiGuido, CEO of e-mail service provider Bigfoot Interactive, New York.

Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA, introduced a preview release of Smart Network Data Services, a tool designed to help ISPs fight spam. Smart Network Data provides ISPs with information on the volume of e-mail being sent from the ISP to MSN Hotmail and what percentage of its e-mail has been marked as spam by Hotmail and MSN customers.

ISPs can then clean compromised machines, increase security measures for the host or network and work with the party that sent the message to determine if it is spam or legitimate e-mail, MSN said.

"The bottom line is, it gives e-mail marketers great data to help monitor their mailing programs," said George Bilbrey, vice president and general manager of delivery assurance solutions at Return Path, New York, which has been trying out the MSN system for about a month. "It gives information on things like the quality of your list, such as whether you are mailing to a lot of people that don't exist at MSN, and it includes complaint rates and spam."

Microsoft also announced the debut of its MSN Postmaster Web site,, to help bulk e-mailers, ISPs and others better understand issues involved in sending e-mail to Hotmail users. The site aims to help fight junk e-mail, improve delivery of legitimate bulk e-mails, streamline the reporting of e-mail abuse and assist with troubleshooting, according to MSN.

The new services are meant to provide "more comprehensive, transparent information-sharing with ISPs and e-mail senders to help protect e-mail," said Kevin Doerr, product unit manager for MSN Hotmail.

Microsoft also said yesterday it would add a "warning alert" to Hotmail's Sender ID program, alerting Hotmail members to potential issues regarding received e-mails with a phrase such as, "The sender of this message could not be verified by Sender ID."

Though it will lessen the ability of spammers to "spoof" another IP address --sending e-mails from a domain that is not their own -- Bilbrey said it will require some "technical work" on the part of e-mail marketers to improve their authentication programs.

"It's not an earth-shattering amount of technical work, though. All legitimate senders should have an authentication program," Bilbrey said.

MSN's Sender ID program has helped Microsoft identify a "substantial amount" of spoofed messages in its first few months of deployment, according to DiGuido.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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