Microsoft Proposes Technical Solutions To Fight Spam
by Arie Slob
Hello Windows users,
This week, in his keynote address at the RSA Conference 2004 held in San Francisco, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced a detailed vision and proposals on how technology can be used to help put an end to spam, including the establishment of Caller ID for E-Mail, part of Microsoft's Coordinated Spam Reduction Initiative (CSRI).
Currently, a lot of spam email send is purporting to be from someone it is not, a technique called "Spoofing". This makes it difficult to track the origins of the spam, and also tricks some existing spam filters.
Microsoft has developed a Caller ID for E-Mail proposal to help eliminate spoofing and increase the effectiveness of spam filters by verifying what domain a message came from, much like how caller ID for telephones shows the phone number of the person calling.
The way this system is proposed to work is that E-mail senders, large or small, publish the Internet protocol (IP) addresses of their outbound e-mail servers in the Domain Name System (DNS) in a format described in the Caller ID for E-Mail specification. Then, receiving e-mail systems will query the DNS for the list of outbound e-mail server IP addresses of the purported responsible domain. They then check whether the IP address from which the message was received is on that list. If no match is found, the message has most likely been spoofed.
According to Microsoft, they are moving ahead with plans for a pilot implementation of this Caller ID for E-Mail in their Hotmail service. Hotmail - currently estimated to serve over 150 million users - will begin publishing outbound IP addresses today and will begin checking inbound addresses early this summer. In addition, Microsoft is working with others in the industry to test this proposal, including Amazon.com Inc., Brightmail Inc. and Sendmail Inc.
For this system to work, a large number of email providers will have to adopt it.
More information on technical specifications for the CSRI and Caller ID for E-Mail proposals are available for public review and comment at this Microsoft Web site.
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