Posted by John Scarrow
General Manager of Safety Services

Last week the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court under the federal CAN-SPAM Act against the perpetrators of what we believe to be one of the largest-ever spam attacks on Windows Live Hotmail. The lawsuit –Microsoft Corporation v. Boris Mizhen, et al. – alleges defendants engaged in an elaborate scheme to evade Microsoft’s filters by abusing Microsoft’s Junk E-Mail Reporting Program (JMRP) and Smart Network Data Services (SNDS) to send vast quantities of spam each day. JMRP and SNDS are free services designed to help protect Windows Live Hotmail customers from spam by encouraging people to report it and to help improve our spam filters by identifying legitimate mail as such.

In our lawsuit, we allege that defendants opened millions of Hotmail e-mail accounts and hired people to manually identify spam mails as legitimate mails in order to trick Hotmail into classifying spam as legitimate mail. Such actions undermine the measures we’ve put in place to protect people. We take this abuse very seriously, and while Hotmail and our SmartScreen filter continue to work to block spam from this identified scheme, we’ll keep investigating and pursuing spam attacks to protect our network and our customers.

Spam filters have actually become quite sophisticated in detecting spam and keeping it out of people’s inboxes. But when spam does get through, it can be a delivery mechanism for nefarious scams and malware. It costs businesses millions of dollars and consumers millions of hours of hassle each year. That’s why Microsoft has long been aggressive in combating spam to protect our customers, with years of investments in one of the most effective filtering technologies out there – SmartScreen – and an ongoing commitment to advancing effective legislation, industry collaboration, education and, when necessary, enforcement action to combat the problem.

If you’re interested in learning more about protecting yourself from spam and scams, visit Microsoft Protect. To stay up to date on the latest from the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, keep watching this blog or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.