E-Mail Show Explores Authentication

 
 
By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2004-07-12
 
 
 

Center stage at the first (and probably last) E-mail Technology Conference in San Francisco was the issue of trust between message senders and receivers. Several facets of this thorny spam-related issue shared the spotlight.

Authenticating sender identity is edging closer to commercial viability. Emerging user authentication standards, including the independent Sender Policy Framework, Yahoo Inc.s Domain Keys initiative and Microsoft Corp.s Caller ID technology—the first step in its Coordinated Spam Reduction Initiative framework—were the subject of many conference panels.

Although it is generally agreed that SMTP—the cornerstone protocol of Internet e-mail—is fertile ground for spammers, calls to change the protocol were strangely absent from the ETC agenda, eWEEK Labs found.

Apparently, the runaway success of spam, combined with a corresponding lack of decisive direction for developing a stronger SMTP standard, means enterprise IT will have to continue bolting anti-spam solutions onto existing e-mail systems for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately for users, companies desire to use e-mail as an advertising channel means that e-mail systems will continue to be porous enough to let through "legitimate" commercial solicitations while trying to block access to senders that wont pay for the ability to send e-mail in bulk.

Because business and consumer e-mail systems have to interface, the problem of spam will be with us for at least the next several years. Therefore, we believe the best way to combat the junk e-mail problem in the last hundred feet between the e-mail server and the user desktop will be the use of client anti-spam tools.

IT managers should offer users client anti-spam tools that let users filter out the junk that will inevitably make it past the perimeter tools that forward "legitimate" junk mail.

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