Aimed at eliminating deceptive email practices such as spoofing, and at separating the good emailers from the bad, authentication and reputation are beginning to take their place at the front lines in the war against spam.
To fight phishing and to curtail the amount of legitimate email mistakenly identified as spam, Microsoft last month officially put its SenderID authentication protocol into play. And, as I noted in yesterday's blog entry, Yahoo! now has turned on its authentication protocol, DomainKeys.
Meanwhile, Return Path is beta-testing its new reputation management system, Sender Score, scheduled for release in August, and the Federal Trade Commission recently launched an email authentication testing web site to advance the testing and widespread deployment of domain-level email authentication standards.
Microsoft says that, by seeking to verify that every e-mail message originates from the Internet domain from which it claims to have been sent, the Sender ID framework addresses a key part of the spam problem: the difficulty of verifying a sender's identity.
Return Path says its reputation system promises to improve deliverability by giving senders insight into their reputation at the ISPs and with other recipients. The system scores senders of commercial email on more than 60 different data elements, including complaint and send volume, security practices and unsubscribe functionality. Return Path says senders will be able to view the aggregate information for free. However, individual analysis will require a subscription.
The Federal Trade Commission has invited the public to share the results of tests performed on various domain-level authentication proposals.
"By sharing testing results, members of the public will help identify standards and approaches that can lead to cost effective, reliable solutions," said the FTC in its "Email Authentication Questionnaire" released June 15.
By putting the squeeze on outlaw spammers while protecting legitimate emailers and their customers, these moves and others will make email better for everyone - except the bad guys.