Email Providers Gear Up For Sender ID
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These days, complaints about spam are often shrugged off; it’s just a part of dealing with the internet. But irrepressible spam may become history in a year or two. New anti-spam systems under the development of Microsoft and Yahoo have been in controversial and experimental stages for quite while, but they are advancing. Soon, web hosts and email providers may have to institute these anti-spam systems just to get customers’ mail to its recipients.
Developers are now seeing spam like an epidemic that has been going untreated. Some reports estimate that 80-90% of all email is spam. My own spam filter tracks the trash content of my inbox, and it tells me that my work email recieves 95.2% spam. Honestly, this is ridiculous. Email was supposed to save time, not waste it as users sort through subjects concerning enlarging your personal “tools” and finding good rates on refinancing a home I don't own. I know a number of people, myself included, maintain a separate email to enter into online forms that present a risk of handing your name to a spammer. Still, brand new email addresses can be flooded with spam when a phisher randomly generates addresses to send mail to.
It’s about time developers design a vaccine for this infection. On June 29th, the Internet Engineering Steering Group (EISG, http://www.ietf.org/iesg.html) said they were releasing two competing standards documents that are both experimental. Hopefully they will begin to establish a standard Sender Policy Framework (SPF), a mail authentication system that some are calling a “caller ID for email.” Also, Microsoft has recently been trying to plow their own standards into adoption. They are warning everyone that their webmail service, Hotmail, will soon filter out and delete all messages from mail providers who do not comply to Microsoft standards.
There is actually a considerable amount if back-story and conflict to this. The concept behind SPF is based on the trouble that spam filters have been having lately; spammers and phishers send mail that has forged “from” addresses. The place where the email says it is from does not match the place that is actually delivering it. This makes the spam harder to block or filter out, since it can appear to come from any address and any domain (including ones that don’t exist). If spammers were restricted to sending from email addresses that they own, the mail would be far easier to track and block. The clutter in mailboxes would decrease considerably.
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