Inbox Show Highlights Anti-Spam Challenges
The first Inbox conference, held earlier this month in San Jose, Calif., was supposed to be about "everything e-mail" but was instead dominated by everything spam.
A highlight of the show, which was attended by about 200 e-mail vendors, experts and enterprise e-mail administrators, was the pending submission of Microsoft Corp.s Caller ID technology, the first step in the companys CSRI (Coordinated Spam Reduction Initiative) framework. Also noteworthy was the news that Meng Wong, author of the Sender Policy Framework, is expected to formally submit the domain authentication scheme to the Internet Engineering Task Force this month.
Once the combined Caller ID-Sender Policy Framework authentication mechanism is implemented in e-mail systems, MTAs (Message Transfer Agents) will be able to check with a domain to see if the IP address associated with the message is authorized to send e-mail.
This wont be a panacea for the spam plague, but it should bring some relief. eWEEK Labs urges IT managers to press the IETF for a speedy approval of the standard.
Standing-room-only Inbox sessions focused on authentication and reputation services, which use an arbitrary set of rules to determine the reputation of an e-mail sender. The popularity of these sessions shows that enterprise e-mail managers should keep an eye on authentication systems development. Managers, after all, must ensure that their message infrastructures can support the directory calls and other technologies, such as digital certificates, that new authentication and reputation systems will require.
Although the technology behind reputation systems hasnt been developed yet, some vendors at Inbox described the reputation schemes of the future. These systems will be built on the premise that the more responsibly a sender behaves, the more likely the reputation service will approve that senders e-mail.
Many vendors are ready to expand the definition of spam to include all unwanted e-mail. Given that current e-mail systems have difficulty sorting narrowly defined spam from "good" e-mail, we advise e-mail administrators to steer clear of products that attempt to take "unwanted" into account.
The road to a spam-scarce future
The Inbox conference provided a glimpse into a future where spam is reduced to a trickle, but that future is still some distance away. The keys to spam scarcity include:
Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.