Unwelcome. Invited. The plague of the email inbox is spam – that’s electronic junk mail and not Spiced Ham. Microsoft’s Hotmail, one of the first truly global free webmail systems, used to suffer massively from spam; it was too easily hacked and addresses harvested; it was used as the platform to send spam; the tools were simplistic and inadequate for managing and blocking spam.
Fortunately, things are much improved. Hotmail uses multiple tools to keep unwanted junk mail out of your inbox. I rarely get any spam in my Hotmail inbox these days.
• ‘Smartscreen’ (Microsoft’s cunningly branded and buzz-worded collection of monitoring tools) automatically blocks spam
• The Sweep feature cleans out legitimate, but unwanted mail
• Filters isolate the messages you want to see
Windows Live, of which Hotmail is a component, uses ‘SmartScreen’, which is designed to catch spam before it reaches your inbox. It is, of course, rules-based and relies on scanning the Hotmail servers for known junk headers, text, links and sender addresses. Being rules-based, it is inevitably one step behind the spammers, relying on users inside and outside Microsoft to report spam, thereby updating the rules engine and database.
Every once in a while, spam messages appear in your inbox, or you get false-positives; legitimate messages are sent to your junk email folder. With Hotmail, you can decide what you want and don’t want to see.
If you see a message in your inbox that you think is spam, select the check box next to the message, and then click Junk on the menu.
If you start getting spam from friends or family, there is an option now called ‘My Friend’s Been Hacked.”
Select the check box next to the spam message, click Mark as on the menu, and then click My friend’s been hacked!
This highlights the account for investigation, with Microsoft looking for other evidence of hacking (deleting any spam in transit) and taking measures to help your friend get their account back; suspending the account and sending a password reset message to a secondary account. At least, that’s what should happen.
It is worth periodically checking your junk email folder to make sure there are no false positives – messages sent to your junk email folder that aren’t spam. There, you can click the check box next to the message, and then click Not junk on the menu. Or, move the message out of the junk email folder.
There’s more information on the Windows Live (Hotmail) Site. AJS