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Outbound spam trends in 2014

By Desmond Liao | 3 minute read

The world of email is constantly changing, and 2014 was no exception. More and more businesses of all sizes are putting their mailboxes in the cloud, with service providers such as Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365.

This trend means traditional anti-spam vendors that serve the enterprise market are suffering, because customers no longer need their solutions – whether service or appliance-based. It’s why we’ve positioned MailChannels in the service provider markets: we know that’s where email is moving as people migrate into the cloud.

How we send email is also changing. Because spammers have honed in on compromising web hosting accounts and services, web hosts need to learn how to deal with outbound spam more than ever before.

As spammers get more aggressive in the hosting segment, homegrown anti-spam solutions become less effective. If you run a WordPress site or any other application on a hosting box that needs to send email, these days you will need some kind of service to help you send that email. If you try to do the spam control yourself, you’re likely to suffer the negative consequences of IP blacklisting.

The right solution stops outbound spam

One thing we heard consistently this year from customers is that MailChannels technology works really, really well. Customers are amazed at how quickly we detect spammers and are able to shut them down. Once people start using our solution – particularly the SMTP Relay Service – they no longer worry about outbound email.

We hit some big milestones in 2014 in terms of optimizing our technology. With our SMTP Relay Service we made major advancements in sender behavior tracking, compromised account notification, and spam blocking. We introduced a new customer console that offers a better user experience. We also launched a new Swiss cloud so people with privacy concerns can have their email processed entirely in Switzerland.

All this sets us up for bragging rights: in the fourth quarter of 2014 we’ve had zero downtime, with an average SMTP connect time of less than 1 second. Our improved sender-behavior tracking engine processes billions of behavior events per day, with a response time of less than 1 millisecond. This means that when a sender sends spam, we can respond to that abuse within 1 millisecond.

Meanwhile our on-premise software now processes more than 7 billion messages per month globally. It means we are now recognized as the world leader in outbound spam providers for large service providers. In fact, MailChannels is deployed at a major enterprise mailbox-hosting platform to protect millions of users from having their accounts compromised by spammers, as well as at a leading Latin American web-hosting provider.

In terms of technical improvements we’ve added new integration capabilities, including controlling SMTP filtering policy from external SQL databases, LDAP servers, DNS, and web services. We’ve upgraded the performance and reliability of the behavior tracking system that powers the world’s most powerful email sender behavior tracking technology. We also improved our integration with Cyren’s advanced outbound content filtering technology.

On our watch-list for 2015

Spam volumes will continue to increase. Spam increased in some cases up to 300 percent in 2014, and spammers adapted their strategy to infiltrate web hosts and email accounts rather than setting up dedicated spamming operations or using PC-based botnets.

There was a big increase this year in root-level compromises of web hosting servers. We expect that trend to continue in 2015 as Linux becomes the new home of the botnet (whereas before it was Windows).

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