The online unit of media giant Time Warner last week implemented SPF, or Sender Permitted From, an emerging authentication protocol for preventing e-mail forgeries, or spoofing. The trial involves the company’s 33 million subscribers worldwide and is the first large-scale test for the protocol, which standards groups are considering along with various other e-mail verification proposals.
“Spoofing of e-mail has become a tremendous issue for the industry, and this allows us to help recipients of AOL e-mail to separate the wheat from the chaff,” AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham said Wednesday.
The article goes on to describe several of the competing standards being developed to overhaul the venerable Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) system that has been traditionally used for sending email over the Net. Two of the other possible standards being considered by various providers include Designated Mailers Protocol (DMP) and Reverse Mail Exchange (RMX).
The goal of all these standards is to establish a means of verifying that email actually comes from where it claims to be from. Something that can’t be determined easily using the current SMTP standard as spoofing headers is pretty simple to do. A means of authentication could help to put a dent in spam, though it wouldn’t eliminate it entirely. Still, with estimates that over half of all email sent zipping around the Net daily consisting of spam anything that would put a dent in that traffic would be more than welcomed.