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Microsoft offers protection against email storms where everyone is answered

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A surefire way to shut down an email system is to send a message to thousands of recipients so that only a few of them reply to everyone and generate millions more emails. Microsoft is now introducing protection against what is commonly referred to as “answering all email storms”.

As The Verge reports, the new feature is intended for Office 365 users and is called “Answer All Storm Protection”. It works by adding a new type of monitoring to the email system hosted by Microsoft Exchange Online that specifically looks for potential email storms. First, a condition is monitored: if 10 responses to more than 5,000 recipients are detected within a 60 minute period, subsequent responses to this email thread are blocked for four hours.

If you take such action, recipients who usually respond with “Please remove me from this thread” or a variation thereof will no longer trigger a storm. Instead, Microsoft only temporarily blocks communication to prevent the email system from collapsing.

When blocking occurs, Office 365 users are informed that any response they choose to send has been “unsent.” The reason for this is that the conversation is too busy with too many people. The feedback also suggests what action to take, including trying to resend the email and send an email to a smaller number of recipients.

Microsoft will address usage telemetry and listen to customer feedback to optimize, optimize and improve protection over time. The ultimate goal is hopefully that email storms are a thing of the past, not just for businesses, but for all email users. If Microsoft can guarantee that this won’t happen, it will act as another marketing tool that can be used to sell Office 365 to businesses.

The move came after Microsoft was caught in a storm last year that sent messages to 11,543 employees.

This article was originally published by PCMag

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