Microsoft anti-spam win a minor blip on Richter scale, says Sophos

August 10, 2005 Sophos Press Release


Computer users cannot rely on legislation alone to prevent spam from reaching their email inboxes.

Microsoft has won a court victory over notorious spammer Scott Richter. Brad Smith, Microsoft's chief counsel, has claimed that the $7 million settlement was a victory for the consumer.

"This settlement is a victory for consumers who rely on the internet because it also means fewer unwanted e-mails in your inbox," Smith said in a written statement.

However, experts at Sophos doubt that consumers will notice a drop in the spam in their email inboxes.

"While Sophos welcomes this development, I'm not so sure that a $7 million victory for Microsoft even registers on the anti-spam Richter scale, or that this win means noticeably less spam for consumers," said Gregg Mastoras, senior analyst at Sophos. "One admitted spammer says he'll no longer be sending spam; meanwhile, there are plenty of other criminals and opportunists waiting to take his place."

"I am optimistic that the courts will continue to take down domestic spammers. Indeed, legislative action has decreased the amount of unsolicited commercial email, but other forms of spam, more insidious in nature, is on the rise and companies can't rest on their laurels and expect government to provide the answer to the spam problem," continued Mastoras. "Companies need to put consolidated protection in place on their networks now."

Spam's proliferation through the use of zombies, as well as the increase in spam originating outside of U.S. jurisdictions, such as from Asia and Eastern Europe, are major contributors to the problem.

"The illegitimate fortunes to be made from spam are considerable, and determined criminals aren't likely to fold their tents as a result of this settlement," said Mastoras. "As such, spam - along with viruses, phishing scams, and Trojans - will continue to be a major threat to computer users, and only keen awareness, constant vigilance, and excellent security products will truly help the problem."

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend businesses from the threats of both spam and viruses; and that users do not open or reply to unsolicited emails.