Microsoft clamps down on IM spam

By Phil Muncaster on Jul 20, 2009 8:07 AM
Filed under Technology

Redmond files lawsuit against firm accused of spamming Windows Live Messenger customers.

Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against a mobile ringtone company as part of its ongoing efforts to clamp down on instant messaging spam, which it says undermines users’ online privacy and security.

In a blog posting, Microsoft's associate general counsel for internet safety enforcement, Tim Cranton, said Redmond is alleging that Funmobile “conducted a significant campaign to undermine the privacy of Windows Live Messenger customer accounts and to ‘spim’ our customers’ contacts”.

Microsoft is seeking to recover monetary damages as well as an immediate injunction to stop the activity.

“Above all, we hope the lawsuit will send a clear message to all potential perpetrators that this kind of activity is not tolerated on our networks,” wrote Cranton.

Microsoft is alleging that Funmobile sent bogus IMs to customers, who were then asked for their IM username and password to log in. Once obtained by the company, these were then used to gain access to these accounts.

“They then ‘scraped’ or ‘harvested’ the contacts within each user’s account, and sent unsolicited bulk IMs to each of his or her contacts,” wrote Cranton.

Mickael Remond, chief executive of enterprise IM provider ProcessOne, said the case highlights the dangers of using public IM clients.

“As enterprises increasingly use IM and chat applications for internal and customer communications, security is more important than ever,” he added.

“Enterprises need to be able to define the scope of their IM communications, and be able to set secure parameters. One of the benefits of IM over e-mail for enterprise security is actually that you can blacklist servers that can't be trusted, but also whitelist servers - for clients and partners, for example – who can be trusted.”

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Microsoft clamps down on IM spam
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