One year ago Microsoft introduced a feature in Hotmail that marked mail from a set of “trusted senders”, primarily banks, with a Trusted Sender icon. The idea was that if mail from your bank was marked with the icon you could trust it, and if mail claiming to be from your bank wasn’t marked then you should be suspicious that it was a phishing attempt. Sadly, this Hotmail feature does not seem to be working. For the financial institutions that I use that are considered trusted senders by Microsoft, less than 25% of the legitimate emails I receive are marked with the Trusted Sender icon. As a result Trusted Sender has absolutely no meaning. For this feature to really work would require that all email from a trusted sender was marked appropriately so that any mail that wasn’t would obviously be a phishing attempt.
I’ve seen nothing new from Microsoft about the Hotmail Trusted Sender program, and it clearly isn’t working after a year of existence. So I have to conclude this feature is all about show and not about actually helping users distinguish between legitimate and phishing email.