Microsoft will stop providing updates for its SmartScreen spam email filters due to the failure of the filters to cope with modern email spam campaigns.

SmartScreen spam email filters have long be used with Outlook and Exchange but, from November 1st, they will be “deprecated” by Microsoft – meaning that the filters will no longer be provided or updated. In a statement released by Microsoft last week, the company said:

“As spammers have evolved and increased the volume and sophistication of their attacks, this type of spam prevention is no longer a useful way to prevent spam”. The company also acknowledged that there had been conflicts between SmartScreen and Microsoft´s own Exchange Online protection (EOP).

Microsoft first released its SmartScreen spam email filters in 2003. They direct email considered to be spam into Outlook’s junk folder. However, the filters are considered too slow to address modern spam campaigns, which launch in minutes and often hide their origins using “reputation high jacking”. This is despite many security flaws in Microsoft products.

Microsoft went to great lengths to avoid any confusion between the SmartScreen spam email filters and the SmartScreen site reputation protections that are part of the Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer browsers. Despite the similar “SmartScreen” name, they have different functions.

Microsoft´s statement said: “In Windows, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer browsers, the SmartScreen Filter online protection feature helps consumers to stay protected from malicious websites and downloads.”

The deprecation of Microsoft´s SmartScreen spam email filter will mostly affect organizations using Exchange Server on premises. Microsoft suggests that organizations currently using SmartScreen can use Exchange Online Protection or a third-party solution as alternatives.

The company is recommending that organizations running Exchange Server on premises put together a plan to have replacement spam protection in place before November 1st. From that date, the SmartScreen spam email filters will remain operative but less and less effective at detecting spam email as time goes on.

Organizations looking to decrease the volume of spam they receive are advised to review our anti-spam tips. For organizations seeking an alternative solution to Microsoft´s SmartScreen spam email filters, you are invited to try SpamTitan free for fourteen days. Please contact your local area support team for more information about this offer.