MAAWG Develops First Industry Best Practices For Protecting Web Messaging Consumers

Also issues practices for email-complaint feedback loops and evaluating anti-abuse products for email operators

November 3, 2010

4 Min Read


SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ --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.

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 overone 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 providers.

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