Yahoo sharpens spam-fighting weapons

Users of Yahoo's e-mail service can expect to see even less spam cluttering their inboxes, the company said, now that it has bolstered its proprietary SpamGuard filter.

The enhancements to SpamGuard, due to be announced Tuesday, come as part of an ongoing effort from the Web content and e-mail provider to eliminate the deluge of unsolicited commercial e-mail flooding Internet users, according to Lisa Pollock, director of Yahoo's messaging products.

"Spam has become an ever-increasing issue for us and the industry," Pollock said.

Yahoo originally developed its SpamGuard filter in December of 1999, according to Pollock, and it has since been adding to its arsenal of spam-fighting tools. In August of last year, for example, the company added a "this is spam" link to users' inboxes

The latest improvements to its SpamGuard have resulted in a 40 percent decrease in complaints coming through the "this is spam link" in a limited test of users, according to Pollock.

"The user experience will be the same, but they will notice that SpamGuard will work better and be more effective at getting messages where they want them to be," Pollock said.

She declined to elaborate on exactly what changes were made to SpamGuard, however, saying that it is proprietary information and could help spammers.

Yahoo's move comes on the heels of a slew of announcements by ISPs indicating that the industry is taking a tough stance on spam. America Online Inc. (AOL), for example, announced last week that it had blocked 1 billion spam e-mails from user inboxes in one day.

Microsoft Corp. has also moved to make spam fighting a central feature of its latest Internet access software, MSN 8.

Pollock said that the fact that the industry as a whole is focused on canning spam is a positive development.

"Together we will absolutely continue to improve the way users interact with e-mail," she said.