If you are using one of Microsoft's emailing services, Outlook.com for instance, you may have noticed a sharp increase in spam messages that were not filed as spam in the past couple of days.
The main issue here was of course that spam was not flagged properly by Microsoft so that it landed in user inboxes instead of the junk folder where it belonged.
You may have noticed as well that spam messages that were not identified as such did not land as frequently in the inbox today or not at all as it did yesterday or the days before.
The drop is explained by two fixes that Microsoft implemented. One was a short time fix designed to fix the bulk of the issue for the majority of users as quickly as possible, the other a long term fix to prevent this from happening again in the future.
Current Status: We're implementing two fixes. One will provide short term relief preventing spam reaching your inbox. The second will be a longer term fix which should stop spam reaching our infrastructure.
The only source of information about the issue is Microsoft's Service Status page. It reveals little information about what caused the actual issue but it all started with the following message yesterday:
- Current Status: We’re currently reviewing service logging in order to identify the root cause.
- User Impact: Users may be receiving excessive spam mail.
According to the final message on the page, both fixes have been implemented in the meantime, and users should not receive excessive spam mail anymore that is not flagged properly.
Affected users vented their frustration on Twitter and social media sites such as Reddit or Facebook.
The issue has been extremely frustrating for users as they had to wade through all the spam flooding the inbox to make sure they did not miss any legitimate emails they have received.
We all know that it can be quite time consuming to go through all the "you have inherited 1.000.000.000 US Dollars", "I'm a Nigerian Prince", "Unpaid Invoice" and "Missed You" emails to find legitimate ones.
Microsoft did not disclose what caused the issue in the first place, and it is unlikely that the company will do so.
On a side note, this is one situation where using a desktop email program can be beneficial as spam has to pass through the providers network first and then the program's spam filter as well before it lands in the inbox.