Spam and Outlook

Microsoft Outlook - @SeniorDBA

Many people don’t understand how a spam filter works, especially with the email software from Microsoft called Outlook. In my experience, people are confused about how emails are blocked, or how emails are filtered into the Junk Email folder inside Outlook.

Generally speaking, your email server is usually used to block common unwanted emails, known as spam. This means the email server has the ability built into the server software to detect and filter (block) emails from being delivered to your email interface, or there is some additional software installed and configured to perform that filtering process. This means less unwanted email is delivered to your inbox.

There is an additional feature built into Outlook that looks at the emails delivered to your Outlook client to determine if it should block the email and redirect it into your “Junk E-mail” folder.

Junk E-Mail - @SeniorDBA

Any email forwarded from your email server (usually Exchange, but could be Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) but identified as spam by our Outlook client will be automatically moved to your “Junk E-mail” folder. Depending on your spam filter settings inside the Outlook Options, you may find you missing emails in this folder. You may disable the filter, but that doesn’t mean all your emails will now be delivered to your Outlook inbox.

As we discussed already, the spam filter on the email server could have blocked the email, Outlook may move the email to Junk E-mail, or even your anti-virus software might have blocked the email. If you work with your team in you IT department, they have tools available that can tell them if the server ever received the email, if it was forwarded to our computer, if it was intercepted by your anti-virus software, etc. They will need to know the address of the person sending you the email, when it was sent, and the subject line (when known).

How can I disable the Outlook spam filter?

How can I mark emails detected as spam by Outlook as “not spam”?


Catch a Hacker in the Act


In this great article on Motherboard, Thomas Brewster tells the story of how security experts are trying to catch hackers in the act of attacking their systems.

But in the name of security research, some are turning the tables on the daily deluge of maliciousness. They set up what are known in the industry as “honeypots,” fake but genuine-looking internet servers that are used by security teams to attract attackers in order to understand their latest techniques and the hottest malicious software doing the rounds.

Earlier this year, in the black heart of the City of London, Europe’s financial capital, I talked to a group of penetration testers (ethical hackers who poke holes in their customers’ systems to figure out where they are weakest), who agreed to create some new honeypots and demonstrate their use for me. I wanted to understand more about how honeypots were built, and whether we could glean any patterns if we added fresh traps in new locations.

Honeypots are normally created on virtual private servers—rentable places to host things on the internet. Once you’ve bought your plot of land for a couple of quid, you download honeypot software; in our case, we used programs known as Dionaea andKippo. This process is essentially like installing a new operating system onto a dumb machine, and creates what appears to hackers to be a genuinely vulnerable server. In reality, none of the features of the systems work, but they look real enough. 

I recommend you read this article if you have any interest in internet security.