One of our Office 365 users complains that lately, he gets a lot of spam E-mails.
His main request is – stop the spam E-mail from getting to his mailbox.
In the current article, we review the reason and the characters for such events in an Office 365 environment. In the next article, we review how to report Microsoft about a spam mail that manages to bypass the existing Office 365 spam filters.
The Report mail as spam – junk to Microsoft article series, including the following articles:
- Report mail as a spam – junk to Microsoft part 1#2
- Report mail as a spam – junk to Microsoft part 2#2
The “subtext” or the secondary complaint is: how is it a possible that the corporate mail security systems, cannot filter and block spam E-mail?
The Intensity of the complaint is increased in a scenario in which the E-mail organization infrastructure hosted at Exchange Online.
In this scenario, the “subtext” is – how is it possible that the Exchange Online security infrastructure cannot deal with spam E-mail?We will not get into a philosophical debate about:
- The definition of spam\junk mail – If a spam\junk mail E-mail is indeed spam E-mail just because a given organization user defines the mail as spam?
- The miss conception of – the perfect E-mail security infrastructure that can block 100% of spam E-mail.
Instead, we will focus on a technical operation that can be implemented by us (or our users) for a report about a particular E-mail as a spam\junk to Microsoft.
The second article in this two article series (Report mail as a spam – junk to Microsoft part 2#2) is an “how to” article, that focuses on the different way that we can use for report mail as a spam\junk to Microsoft or the contrary scenario, in which we want to report an about a legitimate mail, is classified by mistake as a spam\junk mail.
The term that we use in the current article
In the present article, we will use a combination of two terms that have the same meaning: spam mail and Junk mail. The formal Microsoft articles use the term: Junk, but most of our users use the term: spam.
The simple meaning of these two terms is -unwanted E-mail.
What is the meaning of Report E-mail as a spam\junk to Microsoft?
Microsoft provides a service which enables mail recipients, to report a particular mail item\s as a spam\junk mail. The “element” that receives mail that reported as a spam\junk described as Microsoft Spam Analysis Team
Who are the clients that are entitled to use these services?
Well, the answer is not clear because the formal Microsoft article deal with instructions of How to “report mail as spam to Microsoft?” and, doesn’t relate to the question of who are the customers who are entitled to report mail as spam\junk to Microsoft?
In my opinion, the answer is everyone.
Every user who uses Outlook or OWA client and theoretically, even non-Microsoft mail clients that known by E-mail address of the Microsoft Spam Analysis Team.
It looks like the main difference between any “Outlook\OWA” user and Microsoft’s customer such as Office 365 customers or another type of Microsoft’s customers, is that the “Microsoft customers” have the ability to call a support in case that the option of: “report mail as a spam\junk to Microsoft” fails or doesn’t provide the required results.
False negative versus False positive message
A very popular misses conception among users and sometimes among IT persons, is that we are living in a perfect world, in which
- Our mail client and our mail infrastructures could and would, provide a perfect protection of blocking any kind of spam\junk mail
- Our mail client and our mail infrastructures could and would guess in advance, what are the mail items that in our opinion, should classify as spam\junk mail
- Prevent the event, in which a legitimate E-mail is listed by mistake as a junk mail
(And I thought that my dream to look like Brad Pitt was hallucinatory).
In the real world, we will need to need to manage our mail data, hoping that most of the time we can rely on our mail security infrastructure to do a “good work” of protecting us. Sometimes, we will need to “help our guard” by “inform him” about one of the passable scenarios:
How can the Microsoft Spam Analysis Team help us with False positive and False negative scenarios?
The answer is by providing us a way to report about two different scenarios:
- False negative – a scene in which “bad mail items” (spam\junk mail) manage to go unnoticed and the E-mail appear as a legitimate mail.
- False positive – a scenario in which a legitimate mail, is classified by mistake as a spam\junk mail.
What is the E-mail address of the Microsoft Spam Analysis Team?
The formal E-mail address of the Microsoft Spam Analysis Team that appears in the article: Submitting spam and non-spam messages to Microsoft for analysis are:
At the current time, when we use Outlook client and the Junk E-mail Reporting Add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook, the “report mail” is sent to the following E-mail address: [email protected]
When using OWA mail client for reporting mail as a: spam\junk mail (or none- spam\junk mail), the email addresses are as specified above ( [email protected] and [email protected]).
Why do I get spam\junk mail and what doesn’t the spam\junk mail sent automatically to the junk mail folder?
There are two main passable answers to this question:
- Answer 1: the mail is not a spam\junk mail. The fact that users relate to a particular mail item as a “spam\junk” doesn’t mean that the mail is indeed a spam\junk mail.
- Answer 2: the other option for the phenomena in which spam\junk mail is not recognized or classified as a: spam\junk mail described as false positive. The meaning of this fancy term is that a spam\junk mail manages to “dodge” the mail security infrastructure, and although the particular E-mail was supposed to recognize as a spam\junk mail, it was not!
What is the available option for me?
There a two major option for reporting spam\junk mail (and non-spam\junk mail) to the Microsoft Spam Analysis Team:
- Manually sending an E-mail to the Microsoft Spam Analysis Team – to be able to report a particular mail as spam\junk mail (or non-spam\junk mail) we can attach the original E-mail to an “empty E-mail message.”
- Using Outlook and OWA interface – another option that is available for use and, which reviewed in details is using the Outlook and OWA menu option to report a particular mail as spam\junk mail (or non-spam\junk mail).
What do the spam\junk mail analyses include?
This is a real question. The formal answer that provided in the Microsoft article is: Submitting Spam and non-Spam messages to Microsoft for analysis
The Spam analysis team examines your submitted messages and adjusts the Spam filters accordingly to prevent future abuse. As a result, the service is constantly updating and refining the Spam prevention and protection processes. Any submitted items evaluated at the network-wide level. False-positive submissions are examined and assessed for possible rule adjustment to allow future messages through the Spam filters. Therefore, notifying the service of false positives and also unfiltered Spam is advantageous for you and all customers using the global network. The Spam team examines indicators within each submitted message, such as the following:
- From address
- Sending IP address
- Frequency of transmission
- Other trends and patterns
Reporting about spam\junk mail – the black box syndrome
Ok, and now let’s take about the most obvious question that probably appear in your mind throughout the article: how do I know that the “reporting process of mail as a spam\junk is efficient?
- How do I know if someone gets my report about the spam\junk mail?
- How do I know if the Microsoft Spam Analysis Team refers to my report, analyzes the specific mail items and adds the information to the “mail security gateway database”?
- How do I know if the sender of the spam\junk mail will appear in a blacklist?
Well, like it or not, the simple answer is that probably, we will never get a strict answer to these questions.
As far as I know, there is no formal response or a “follow-up” mail that sends to update us about the status of the report that we have sent.
All that we can do is hope that if the mail is really a spam\junk mail, the Microsoft Spam Analysis Team, will classify this mail as a spam\junk mail and implement the proper action as it sees.
The dilemma: manual report spam\junk mail or contact Office 365 Microsoft support?
A popular Miss concept of Office 365 customers is that in a scenario in which, an Office 365 users or users report about the “issue” of – “getting spam\junk mail” the best solution is to contact the Office 365 Microsoft support and require firmly, that the matter will be reported and informed up to the highest level!
Other fewer popular options are to use the possibility of report mail as a spam\junk, by using the available option in OWA or Outlook mail clients.
The answer is by providing us a way to report about two different scenarios the two following reasons:
- The opinion of the user; – If a user says the mail is spam\junk mail, our professional commitment is to verify and check the particular incident. Is it a scenario of “spam\junk mail flood” or, just a minor number of spam\junk mails?
Does the mail that the user “tag” as a spam\junk mail relay a spam\junk or an “Innocent marketing mail”?
- Choosing the most effective and fastest solution – In my humble opinion, the most effective and fastest solution is using the OWA\Outlook report mail as a spam\junk option because all you need to do is to click right on your mouse button and choose the report as junk option.
My point is: that I think that the most effective way simply reports the “problematic” mail by using one of the options that we will review in the next article. Only in very particular scenarios, we will need to use the option of contacting the Microsoft support team and report or consult the issue with a “real person”.
This is the simplest and, the easiest way that we can choose for “delivering” the mail that we consider as spam\junk mail the “right place” and to the “right people” that could help us!
- Junk Email Reporting in OWA
- How to report Spam that arrives in Office 365 to Microsoft
- Submitting Spam and non-Spam messages to Microsoft for analysis
- The Junk Email Reporting Add-in doesn’t appear in Outlook
- Anti-Spam Protection FAQ
- Junk Email Reporting Add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook
- Anti-Spam and Anti-Malware Protection
The next article in the current article series
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