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Microsoft Preaches Authentication

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Mar 1, 2004 1:00 PM PST    Text size: 
New York, NY – Microsoft continued its charge against the spam industry Monday by announcing details of an anti-spam campaign that closely resembles a caller ID system, except for email.

According to Bill Gates, the only way to stymie the flow of spam is to make email marketers accountable for who they are and where their email content originates.

Microsoft's anti-spam initiative aims to put a stop to what is popularly known as "spoofing," which enables email marketers to disguise their identities.

Microsoft's proposal would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to submit lists of unique numeric addresses for their mail servers. According to MSNBC, a certain type of Microsoft-branded software would then check a database to verify that a message said to come from an email provider actually originated at one of its registered machines.

Security experts are saying that Microsoft's anti-spam system would also reduce spread of email viruses and fraud that occurs through email 'phishing' schemes.

Microsoft is so far referring to its anti-spam initiative as 'Caller ID for E-mail,' and the software maker is among numerous other companies currently developing their own approach to ending, or at least lessening, spam.

While Microsoft and Yahoo! are each developing systems aimed at authenticating senders of email, America Online is in the midst of testing a third method called 'Sender Policy Framework.'

Spam filtering company Sendmail Inc. and Amazon.com are also developing anti-spam systems.

The anti-spam initiatives currently on the table would require no changes to existing protocols for email or the Domain Name System.

According to MSNBC, security experts are working on ways to diminish the amount of legitimate email that is intercepted when sent from places like cybercafes, hotels, and public Wi-Fi hotspots.

According to MSNBC, Yahoo has taken a very different approach to the spam issue and has proposed a process called DomainKeys, which digitally encrypts email messages in such a way that email browsers can reject certain email, although Yahoo's plan has not yet been implemented.

To keep track of the wave of anti-spam initiatives underway, the Internet Engineering Task Force is scheduled to conduct an authentication session next in South Korea.

According to MSNBC, within the coming year, at least one of the anti-spam systems will be made available to the general public.

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