Microsoft  Spamcop Saga: corporate greed, incompetence or genuine irresponsibility

Microsoft  Spamcop Saga: corporate greed, incompetence or genuine irresponsibility

The Microsoft Spamcop spam saga continues…

Since December 2023, the amount of spam sent from the Office365 platform has spiked and is continuously growing.

Consequently, from around the 8th of January 2024, hundreds of IP addresses of servers in the platform’s pool have been blocklisted on Spamcop. This has led to emails randomly being clocked by spam filtering services used by organizations worldwide.

Microsoft’s support team recently declared the incident closed despite the problem not showing signs of slowing down. They likely thought scripting some automated submission of affected IPs to Spamcop’s de-listing service would work.

The Microsoft Spamcop relationship is, however, not working.

Some voices in the industry claim that using IP blocklists in 2024 is archaic and unnecessary. But this only shows they don’t really understand the whole picture of protecting against malicious traffic. Using public blocklists allows email server admins to drop connections from known spam-sending IPs, before they run any other filtering algorythms.

Allowing the SMTP protocol dialogue to continue can lead to security breaches. This is because spammers and scammers keep coming up with new techniques to work around filtering algorythms and sometimes they are extremely successful. Removing the blocklist check leads to an increase in spam delivered to mailboxes by about 200%, in my experience.

Add to that the simple fact that disabling blocklist checking immediatelly affects the performance of spam filters platforms, due to the sheer amount of CPU power required to process millions of malicious emails per second.

Since early January, emails sent to organizations using best practices in fighting spam (i.e. blocking traffic from IPs involved in malicious traffic) have been blocked. This affects legitimate email traffic sent by businesses relying on this communication, primarily if they are using Microsoft Office365 platform. It affects their capability to conduct vital processes, such as invoicing, payment notifications, sales and marketing. Hence, the Microsoft Spamcop-related incident keeps resurfacing, albeit ignored by the software giant.

Technical or Business Model Problem?

The underlying problem stems from Microsoft’s business model, offering a one-month trial for their Office365 product and an appalling approach to security and best practices. Despite what Microsoft’s support mentions and they declare on their website, the organization’s anti-spam policies are ineffective. Any new tenant can easily become a spammer and combined with how easy it is to

However, as with all the other services and products Microsoft has released, the security and compliance approach suffers from two significant issues:

  • The default configurations are loose, offering nearly zero protection and compliance with modern standards.
  • The platform’s administrative interface is heavy, convoluted, unnecessarily complex and slow. This leads to low productivity and even lower adoption of best practices, especially by small organizations.

This means a determined spammer/scammer can efficiently set up shop and send millions of phishing or spam emails, thus creating problems for everybody else. The platform has a limit of 10,000 outbound emails per 24 hours… per user. With the trial mechanism allowing up to 25 users and copnsidering the automation available today, this means a clever hacker can send 250,000 spam messages without breaching the rules. On a single credit card, a malicious organisation can have several trials running, and send millions of messages daily, on perfectly legitimate domains.

Without the utilization of blocklists and the termination of connections during SMTP dialogue facilitated by services like Office 365 Microsoft Spamcop will stop being useful. Consequently, the volume of spam infiltrating users’ mailboxes would be unimaginable. The chaos that hackers could unleash becomes particularly concerning when there’s an obligation to permit emails from Microsoft’s IPs without such protective measures.

And here’s the real problem: Microsoft’s platform does not use blocklisting services to fight spam. This means emails sent between Office365 tenants aren’t affected. This can quickly shift thinking in organizations protected by compliant spam filtering services that Microsoft’s threat protection is a better solution. This further leads to higher Office365 adoption and — in time — an increase in the absolute dominance of Microsoft’s products in the marketplace.

In my humble opinion, this is really not good, given the many issues we see with security and privacy caused by the giant’s approach. Especially now, when the emergence of AI gives governments, hackers, scammers and cloud platform giants increasingly productive ways to exploit a population oblivious to the real potential technolgoy has to affect their lives.

Is Microsoft Spamcop ‘s killer?

It would be only the latest in an extensive list of similar practices by the technology giant whose leaders believe anything is allowed in their chase for increased profitability. This is a perfect example of what’s wrong in our modern capitalist society . The  unmitigated greed that uses the benefits of a free market and fantastic business and financial developments. Only to wipe out any competition and gain unimaginable wealth to the detriment of society. This Microsoft Spamcop issue is not new, and the approach leads me to believe the latter is or will soon be targeted by the global corporation to be wiped out.

The solution is simple from a technical perspective: limit any trial account to sending a low number of emails per day. After all, it’s just a trial. Alternatively, Microsoft could quickly develop a solution that protects the platform from abuse. After all, it is a software giant and theoretically hires some of the world’s most prolific and capable software developers. Wait… they have already done that, based on their declarations. The company’s security and compliance products are the best and most comprehensive globally. Microsoft Defender, Sentinel, Entra, Purview, Priva and Intune are supposed to protect our organization from any potential threat to humanity in the technology sector. And, if I’m right, we may soon see a Microsoft Spamcop product that will be as inefficient as the rest.

This is really bad?

So, we are left with a fight on our hands, trying to work around the corporate greed, incompetence, and irresponsibility of a behemoth that dominates the market with subpar products driven by a ruthless philosophy to wipe out and screw everybody, breaking every rule of corporate decency whilst shouting at every step, through the marketing and sales megaphone “We are the greatest, kindest and most responsible friend you can have… just give us your money and don’t expect too much.”

Except… we do have a choice. We can be more informed about technology and make better choices. We can look for alternatives, as these products are not the only solutions in the marketplace. There are other providers, and there’s the Open Source Community who provided a plethora of alternatives. My business, ViBuNe even has a package to replace completely platforms such as Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365, as well as other platforms like Hubspot, Salesforce, Teamwork and others.

So, stay informed, learn how technology works and reach out to technology experts who can show you the alternatives. You’ll be surprised.

Disclaimer: I respect Microsoft’s remarkable achievements in software and automation. But I do have a grudge against the organization since having a product wiped out of the marketplace in the nineties by their anti-competition internal policy backed by their powerful position on the market. And, I truly believe we should disallow such organisations from ignoring the effects their greed have on our lives and force them to elevate their moral status and civic responsibility.

I set myself a goal to provide my customers with alternatives from the open-source movement, and empower them with better solutions that allow them to control the features and benefits whilst reducing their technology budgets.

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