Microsoft toughens up Outlook

Tuesday, 14 October 2003, 1:46 PM EST

A new version of Microsoft Outlook makes it harder for spammers and scammers to invade users' computers through their e-mail.

The software, available at the end of October with the release of Microsoft Office 2003, boasts more-aggressive security features, more options to disable malicious or snoopy code embedded in e-mails and attachments, and additional ways to block spam and other unwanted e-mail.

Security experts are giving mixed reviews to the updated version of the popular e-mail program. Some say little is innovative in Outlook 2003 -- many of the new features are already included in other e-mail programs like Eudora. Others say the changes are a step in the right direction for Microsoft.

"I'm glad to see that Microsoft is taking some initiative in engineering their applications for security, rather than relying solely on patching vulnerabilities as they're discovered," said security researcher Robert Ferrell.

Ferrell said one of his main concerns about Microsoft in the past is that "they seem to expect the rest of the world to do their application testing for them gratis, and they ship most of their products with virtually all of what few security features they do have turned off by default."

In previous versions of Outlook, users had to manually reset Outlook security options to achieve the highest level of protection. However, security options in the new version are set by default at the highest level.

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