New Standards to Eliminate Email Spam



By Roderick Ioerger

Technology is constantly advancing, yet efficient and effective protection from e-mail spammers and phishers is still a challenging problem for many individuals and organizations. In 2005 Yahoo, Cisco, and a number of other major corporations worked together to develop DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM).

DKIM is a validation method that allows an e-mail message to be identified by the actual domain from which the e-mail was sent and the e-mail can also be traced back to its origin creating the ability to have only highly legitimate e-mail messages delivered.

The way the system works is fairly direct. The source of any e-mail working with (DKIM) will automatically attach a digital signature to out going e-mail. When the e-mail arrives at the recipient’s web server the server will check the digital signature to make sure that the digital signature is valid. If the digital signature is valid then the e-mail will be delivered. If not the e-mail message will be flagged as spam.

Simple, direct, and obvious it seems like a wonderful solution but there are two possible flaws in this system. First is the encryption on the digital signature, how effective will it really be? Just because it uses public key encryption, which is believed to be unbreakable, doesn’t really make it so. When creative people are put to the challenge and enough money is involved, people tend to do accomplish the impossible and tend to do it very quickly.

The second is a larger and more daunting question. Will organizations adopt this system? This system will only work if organizations are willing to adopt and implement this technology. Without adoption all the hard work goes for not. And even if an organization does adopt the technology it is only effective if both the sender and the recipient have the technology installed.

Now with all that being said, recently the IETF, a key Internet standards body, gave preliminary approval for this technology to become a standard practice, providing legitimacy to the technology and the possibility for wide spread adoption. The real question now is will Yahoo, Cisco, and the other organizations involved in the software’s inception work hard to get the software out into the hands of the internet technologists who can best use it?

For marketers and legitimate e-mailers this type of technology poses a lot of additional questions and possibly some concerns as well. Over all though the technology, should it be adopted globally has the potential to make e-mail marketing more effective as it will open doors to services that sometimes currently filter so stringently that delivering legitimate email is nearly impossible.

About Roderick Ioerger

Roderick Ioerger is a long time online marketing and travel industry veteran.