Microsoft Nets $7 Million in Spammer Settlement 

Microsoft has been awarded a $7 million settlement from self-proclaimed spam king, Scott Richter, who at one time was busy sending more than 38 billion unwanted email messages a year through his company OptInRealBig.com. Sued in December 2003 by Microsoft and the state of New York, Richter has agreed to pay $7 million in damages to settle the case and will halt his illegal spamming practices.

"Microsoft will reinvest every penny from this settlement to expand the effort against computer related crimes," Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said. "One million dollars of that money will be directed to New York state to provide many community centers with the resources to provide broader access to computers to both kids and adults."

Microsoft hopes this settlement will send a message (insert pun here) to other spammers that their days are numbered and that sending illegal spam is risky. According to the software giant, Microsoft has supported more than 135 spam enforcement actions worldwide including 106 private civil lawsuits in the United States alone.

"In response to Microsoft's and the New York attorney general's lawsuits, we made significant changes to OptInRealBig.com's emailing practices and have paid a heavy price," Richter said. "I am committed to sending email only to those who have requested it and to complying fully with all federal and state antispam laws."

Again, Microsoft's Monthly Security Patches Pack a Wallop.

As the old adage goes, when it rains it pours and Microsoft's scheduled monthly security patches are no different. Yesterday, Microsoft released six security patches, three of which are rated critical, the company's highest designation. Microsoft also rereleased two security bulletins. As usual, most of the patches involve bugs in the usual suspects, Windows and Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE).

The most serious vulnerability which could cause remote code execution exists only in Windows 2000, although a much less serious version also occurs in Windows XP. Other critical flaws that the company patched include a collection of IE vulnerabilities and a vulnerability in the XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Win2K print spooler.

As always, Microsoft recommends that users upgrade to the latest Windows version XP with SP2 on the client and Windows Server 2003 with SP1 on the server to achieve the most secure systems. The company also notes that customers should enable Automatic Updates to automatically receive critical security updates and visit Microsoft Update periodically to download and install other updates. For more information about this month's security patches, visit the Microsoft Security Web site.