Claims made by Hotmail on the capability to eradicate spam criticised

News by Dan Raywood

Updates to Microsoft Hotmail have been accused of not addressing spam in any substantive manner.

Updates to Microsoft Hotmail have been accused of not addressing spam in any substantive manner.

Last week, Dharmesh Mehta, director of Windows Live product management, announced that Hotmail users can create and manage multiple email aliases from a single Hotmail account.

Identifying that ‘the average person maintains three different email addresses in order to organise different types of email, maintain different personas or keep junk mail away from a primary email address', Mehta said that users can add up to five aliases per year to their Hotmail account and up to 15 aliases in total to make it easier to organise different types of email and personas in one Hotmail inbox without having to give out a primary email address.

“You might be concerned that your address could be sold to other companies or could result in a large amount of new email that you do not want or does not belong in the same place as your regular email. Or maybe you want an address that is better suited to your hard-core gaming persona rather than your normal, professional one,” he said.

However, Leon Rishniw, senior vice president of engineering for Cloudmark, said that while this was a good feature for managing short-term email relationships, there is no benefit when it comes to addressing spam and in fact, it could actually provide a greater opportunity for spammers.

He said: “Many people who run their own mail servers have used a similar technique for years to isolate services that sell or compromise their email addresses. This approach can be useful for organising your mail; but does it actually stop spam?

“It seems that it makes it just a little more convenient to manage it than setting up another free mailbox. Meanwhile consider the alternative, where your Hotmail account gets compromised and a spammer starts sending from your alias. This has happened at mailbox providers that support child accounts where poor password policies led to compromised accounts and spammers would create child accounts and spam from them.

“Email users should not be expected to manage their own spam, instead they should leave it to the experts. There are currently free anti-spam solutions available that plug in to web-based email services such as Hotmail and Google, so users can be confident their email inbox will remain spam free, regardless of their short-term email relationship activities.”


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