But changes can come slowly, one site at a time over a period of several years. And sometimes they can be made more effectively when pushed by a big, strategic company than a standards body.
A little catchup on the terminology:
- SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is a standard for authenticating messages by checking special records stored in the DNS for the domain that the message claims to be from. But it only checks the message envelope (the MAIL FROM statement in SMTP) and thus misses quite a bit of SMTP fraud.
- SIDF (Sender ID Framework) is Microsofts approach to authenticating the entire message. The heart of it is the determination of a PRA (Purportedly Responsible Address) for the message and checking the domain of that address to see if the messagess sending agent is authorized. SIDF incorporates SPF as a first-stage test and stores further records in DNS in XML format.
- DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is the merger of two similar standards from Yahoo and Cisco. It too uses DNS-based records to authenticate a messages sender as authorized for the domain of purported sender but uses a public key cryptography scheme for the authentication, removing the need to track actual IP addresses of servers.
But in the meantime , others decided to dive in to the DKIM pool and swim. There are some big mail providers on the list, Yahoo of course being the biggest and AOL is there too. Most of the others are actually software companies, important ones like Sendmail and IBM and qmail.org (I know, not really a company). Notice also a fair amount of overlap with the SIDF list. But how many of the smaller ISPs and hosting services support DKIM or SIDF? Not many I think.
SPF support is much more widespread. Setting up SPF is easy and its one of those standards that everyone loves and professes to admire, even though it does far less than most people think it does. Consider this Slashdot article and discussion about promotion of DMIM by PayPal. Of course, as usual, the Slashdot writeup overstates the actual claims in the article, but whats interesting is in the discussions how participants who claim to be administering mail servers for real organizations.
There is a general lack of understanding that SPF deals only with envelopes, a lack of understanding that all these systems are designed to work only at the MTA level, and a general assumption that SIDF is technically unsound (with no elaboration of course).