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Yahoo! Rolls Back Anti-spam and SSL Features of Yahoo! Mail
[June 12, 2008]

Yahoo! Rolls Back Anti-spam and SSL Features of Yahoo! Mail

TMCnet Contributing Editor
Due to difficulties experienced by users when retrieving POP e-mail from external accounts, Yahoo! is rolling back the anti-spam and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) features of its Webmail service.
Complaints from users began when Yahoo! beefed up its spam filtering tools and added SSL capabilities to its Yahoo! Mail service, InfoWorld Daily said in a Wednesday report. Failing to find any other way around the problems, Yahoo! decided to remove these added security features.

The company said this roll-back is in progress, and it may take a few days for the effects to reach all users. Yahoo! has plans to restore affected POP retrieval capabilities and will pursue re-adding the security features later once source of the problems is identified and resolved, InfoWorldDaily said.
“What this means is that your ability to retrieve from these accounts should be completely restored, however it also means that we will be rolling back the recently added option to use SSL,” said Ryan Knight, manager of Yahoo! Mail Community, in the InfoWorld Daily report.
Knight added: “If you have added an account that requires SSL, retrieval from that account will no longer be possible.”

In its report, InfoWorld Daily quoted Mike Bradley, a realtor from Littleton, Colorado who has used Yahoo! Mail since 1995. Bradley indicated that Yahoo! could have done a better job by withdrawing the new features as soon as the problem occurred and communicating about updates more frequently.
“The most frustrating thing is to not know what's happening, and frequently updated communication could have made for a better interaction with those of us affected,” Bradley was quoted as saying in the report. “Server busy’ error messages lasted two days, then I started getting time out messages for two days, then I started to get mail slowly, but not all my mail.”

Knight had acknowledged the problem in the Yahoo! Mail blog for the first time on June 3, InfoWorld Daily said, when he informed users that the company's engineers were already rolling out a fix. The problem continued, however, and on June 6, he admitted that the issues remained and Yahoo would seek an immediate solution.
Knight had also explained the reasons behind the problem in the blog post: “Recently we made some changes to how external account retrieval works. Most notably we added SSL functionality (enhanced security technology), which many users have been clamoring for. We are also taking steps to improve spam blocking for messages that are being retrieved from these external accounts, by running them through more aggressive filters. Unfortunately we encountered some unexpected problems that lead to server errors or processes timing out for some users.”

Yahoo! spokeswoman Kelley Podboy told InfoWorld Daily said that Yahoo! was sending direct e-mail to all users who have recently enabled SSL external accounts to notify them of the change.
Yahoo Mail has two POP-related services: ‘POP in’ and ‘POP out’.  ‘POP in,’ a free service for retrieving messages from external accounts, is the one that is affected by the recent changes. ‘POP out,’ is used for downloading messages using a desktop e-mail application, such as Outlook, and accessing them offline. The latter service is unaffected by the problem and is available as a premium feature to Yahoo! Mail users who pay $19.99 per year for the service's Plus plan. Both services are available to users of Yahoo! Mail Classic and the new Yahoo! Mail.

The tech problems surrounding Yahoo! Mail had an adverse effect on the company, InfoWorld Daily noted. Yahoo! Mail is the largest platform for the company to boost advertising, increase traffic, attract more developers, and compete by giving its users a "social profile" dashboard to unify and manage their Yahoo! services. The current crisis hampers the turnaround effort and comes at a bad time, particularly when there is a confusion surrounding Microsoft’s (News - Alert) acquisition offer and a shareholder proxy fight to oust current board members.
Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

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