What Happens Now

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-08-02 Print this article Print

?"> As fast as the process has gone so far, and thats very fast by IETF standards, the process has a ways to go. According to Andy Newton, the working group will meet in San Diego to put finishing touches on the draft documents, and then a "last call" goes out to the working group.

"Once the working group has consensus on these documents," according to Newton, "we will send them to the IESG (Internet Engineering Steering Group) for approval. " The IESG will then issue an IETF-wide last call. Once IESG concerns are satisfied, the documents will be given to the RFC Editor, where they will be published as a Proposed Standard. (RFC 2026 covers the IETF standardization process.)

Its easy to notice the dissension in the working group discussions, but its not too hard to notice the support for the standard as well, at least with respect to individual parts of what is a complex standard. Levine has a point in his observation that the SMTP we have all come to know over the years is a very simple standard (after all, the "S" in SMTP is for "simple"). Sender ID makes it much more complex.

Read all about Microsofts battle to deliver secure software in eWEEK.coms special report on Many have expressed skepticism that the Internet community will move quickly to adopt the new standard, but they may be pushed along sooner than they would expect. According to Meng Wong, AOL and Earthlink are already publishing SPF records and Microsoft recently committed to do so. If all the major mail providers start supporting SPF or Sender-ID and classifying mail based on them, other parties may need to join in lest their mail be relegated to a disreputable status and placed in the "Unauthenticated" folder of E-mail users.

The leadership of the IETF and the working group may recognize the importance of this, as have the major mail server vendors, such as Sendmail, most of whom have also committed to work with the standards.

The alternative is, at the very least, unpleasant: Spam will continue to increase as a percentage of Internet e-mail, and the only methods to stop it, filtering software, will lose the arms race.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at http://security.eweek.com for security news, views and analysis.
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Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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