Outlook.com now has collected some SBL listings

November 4, 2015

I mentioned on Twitter that portions of outlook.com are now on the SBL. At the moment there are two listings for protection.outlook.com hosts; SBL272953 from October 11th and SBL273948 from October 21st. Both spam samples quotes by Spamhaus show the signs of a null sender, so clearly these people are as entrenched as I thought. Microsoft also has a Hotmail SBL listing, SBL268930, from September 10th.

(All Microsoft SBL listings can be found here, which is a link I want to keep for my own reference if nothing else.)

Clearly Microsoft doesn't care enough about these SBL listings to do anything about them. It's not clear why this is so, though. Perhaps the Microsoft abuse system is undermanned and overwhelmed. Perhaps a SBL listing doesn't affect delivery to enough places for Microsoft to care (especially a SBL listing for just one or two IPs out of the many that protection.outlook.com hosts use). Perhaps Microsoft simply hasn't noticed the SBL listings.

Locally we've seen connections from one of these IPs in the past week, and all of the deliveries were for null sender address so they were almost certainly spam. This means that I don't currently have to worry about the effects on our users of outlook.com getting more widely listed in the SBL (which is a concern, since some of the university's own email comes from there).

(Only some users subscribe to SBL-based rejection, but in the past SBL listings have clearly been a significant input to the spam score our commercial anti-spam system computes for messages. My unscientific belief is that a great many people filter their email based on that score, so widespread SBL listings for outlook.com could well push the scores for outlook.com email into 'filter away' territory. If this happened, there would be basically nothing we could do about it.)

Written on 04 November 2015.
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Last modified: Wed Nov 4 00:29:26 2015
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