MAAWG Develops First Industry Best Practices for Protecting Web Messaging Consumers

By Messaging Anti-abuse Working Group maawg, PRNE
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Also Issues Practices for Email Complaint Feedback Loops and Evaluating Anti-Abuse Products for Email Operators

SAN FRANCISCO, October 28, 2010 - The first industry best practices to help Web messaging and social
networking operators protect users of their Web mail, direct messaging and
SMS services from spam and other cyber attacks have been released by the
Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG). MAAWG also published two other
new best practices papers clarifying conventional email processes for
incorporating consumer complaint feedback loops and to assist ISPs in
evaluating anti-abuse tools.

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The Web messaging best practices are a significant industry undertaking
aimed at protecting consumers. As users migrate to social media and Web mail,
cyber criminals are modifying their spam and malware distribution techniques
to take advantage of these venues. Spammers use Web mail accounts to send
bot-infected emails; they promote malicious websites in text added to article
sharing and invite emails; and they send abusive direct messages to site
users, among other illicit processes.

The MAAWG Best Common Practices for Mitigating Abuse of Web Messaging
Systems provides recommendations that network and site engineers can use to
identify abusive messaging and block spammers. Among the topics described in
the paper are methods to:

    - Monitor a site, including auditing user account metrics and possible
      abusive transactions
    - Tighten user interface security, such as requiring users to register
      before posting or sending messages
    - Requiring CAPTCHA verification, the distorted text users enter when
      registering or submitting content
    - Limiting how often users can access a Web service or how many messages
      can be sent
    - Applying the appropriate content filtering techniques
    - Developing effective abuse response messages

"While users are benefiting from innovative Web messaging services, cyber
criminals just see another channel to steal sensitive consumer information or
send spam loaded with viruses and bots. That's why sharing information among
the professional messaging community about what has been working to keep the
spammers at bay is so important. The recommendations outlined in the MAAWG
best practices are meant to preserve a safe online experience and protect
users," said Michael O'Reirdan, MAAWG chairman.

Both the Web messaging and the other two new best practices are available
at the MAAWG website at The 21st
MAAWG General Meeting also will focus on protecting online users and will be
held in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 22-24, 2011. Earlier this month, more than 350
messaging security and public policy experts attended the organization's
meeting in Washington, D.C., during a working event that included 35 panels,
presentations and information sharing sessions.

Clarifying Best Practices for Providing and Using Email Complaint
Feedback Loops

Addressing conventional email, another new MAAWG best practices paper
focuses on a common mechanism used to identify and manage consumer complaints
about unwanted messages. When users hit the "junk mail" or "spam" button in
their inbox to identify an abusive message, a complaint notice is sent back
to the service provider. These responses are channeled into a complaint
feedback process used by network operators, mailbox providers, email vendors
and bulk senders to improve spam filtering and help senders increase
deliverability by adjusting their mailing practices.

While many de facto standards for sharing this feedback have developed
over the years, the MAAWG Complaint Feedback Loop Best Current Practices is
the first document to clearly describe existing accepted procedures. It
outlines the process and recommended policies, including privacy concerns,
for both the mailbox providers who collect the data from their users and the
bulk senders or vendors who receive the resulting complaint reports.

Evaluating Email Anti-Abuse Solutions

Also important to the industry, the MAAWG Email Anti-Abuse Product
Evaluation Best Current Practices outlines how to conduct trial evaluations
of email anti-abuse products or services. Aimed at email system operators and
engineers, the paper offers suggestions on determining functional and
business requirements for enterprise anti-abuse products, identifying key
performance indicators, multiple product testing and analyzing the results.

About the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG)

The Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) is where the messaging
industry comes together to work against spam, viruses, denial-of-service
attacks and other online exploitation. MAAWG (
represents over one billion mailboxes from some of the largest network
operators worldwide. It is the only organization addressing messaging abuse
holistically by systematically engaging all aspects of the problem, including
technology, industry collaboration and public policy. MAAWG leverages the
depth and experience of its global membership to tackle abuse on existing
networks and new emerging services. It also works to educate global policy
makers on the technical and operational issues related to online abuse and
messaging. Headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., MAAWG is an open forum
driven by market needs and supported by major network operators and messaging

MAAWG Board of Directors: AOL; AT&T (NYSE: T); Bank of America;
Cloudmark, Inc.; Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA); Cox Communications; Facebook;
France Telecom (NYSE and Euronext: FTE); Goodmail Systems; Openwave Systems
(Nasdaq: OPWV); Return Path; Tata Communications (NYSE: TCL); Time Warner
Cable; Verizon Communications; and Yahoo! Inc.

MAAWG Full Members: 1&1 Internet AG; Apple Inc.; Bizanga LTD; Cisco
Systems, Inc.; Constant Contact (CTCT); e-Dialog; Edatis; Eloqua; Experian
CheetahMail;; Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ Nasdaq: IIJI); McAfee
Inc.; PayPal; Return Path, Inc.; Scality; Spamhaus; Sprint; Symantec;
YouSendIt; and Zynga, Inc.

A complete member list is available at

Linda Marcus, APR, Astra Communications, +1-714-974-6356, LMarcus at

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