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Microsoft taps IronPort in spam fight

The software giant adopts IronPort's "bonded sender" antispam protections for the MSN online service and for Hotmail e-mail.

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a partnership with IronPort Systems, adopting that company's antispam protections for the MSN online service and Hotmail e-mail.

Under the agreement, Microsoft will use Ironport's "bonded sender" e-mail certification program, according to Ironport representatives. This means Microsoft will defer to Ironport's list of qualifying senders before allowing their e-mail through its gates.

San Bruno, Calif.-based IronPort operates a certification program, or what some call a white list, that requires bulk e-mailers to pony up a financial bond before qualifying to send messages to its customers. If e-mailers breach good practices, a debt will be taken from their bond.

The deal feeds into Microsoft's corporate mandate to squelch spam. Adopting the certification service will be among several approaches the software giant is taking for MSN and the free e-mail service, Hotmail.

For example, Microsoft is developing an e-mail authentication system, a sort of caller ID for e-mail, that would verify legitimate senders. The company also maintains a long-standing relationship with spam-filtering company Brightmail.

Outside of its bonded sender program, Ironport sells e-mail server appliances designed to secure mail delivery with virus protection and antispam software. The company also owns a blacklist service, Spamcop, which broadcasts Internet Protocol addresses used to send junk mail so that third parties can refer to it to fend off spam.