Yahoo said it will roll out globally this week a new antispam specification intended to make it easier for service providers to confidently discard suspicious email messages.
The specification, called DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance), allows email senders to tell receiving services if they are using two other technologies to weed out spam.
Many email senders use DKIM, or DomainKeys Identified Mail, which wraps a cryptographic signature around an email that verifies the domain name through which the message was sent.
The second technology, SPF, or Sender Policy Framework, allows email senders to indicate which hosts are authorized to send their email, allowing receiving organizations to discard messages coming from spoofed “from” addresses.
The DMARC specification, which is supported by companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others, lets a sender indicate if they are using SPF or DKIM, or both. It also allows senders to tell the recipient what to do with messages if authentication of some messages fails.
Senders can also receive a report from recipients on how they’ve handled the questionable messages. DMARC helps solve the problem of what to do with suspicious messages, which in some cases might have been delivered.
The messages could be phishing attempts, or ploys intended to trick recipients into revealing sensitive information or encouraging them to click on malicious links leading to bogus websites purporting to be, for example, a bank.
“If you receive an email claiming that it is from your bank, the applicable DMARC policies require the email to prove that is indeed from your bank in order to be delivered to your mailbox,” wrote Ajay Gopalkrishna , a senior product manager with Yahoo Mail. “If the incoming email cannot be verified, Yahoo Mail will not deliver the email to your mailbox.”
Gopalkrishna wrote Yahoo will encourage ISPs and other email providers to deploy DMARC. Organizations and companies behind DMARC intend to submit a draft specification to the Internet Engineering Task Force in the hope it will become a standard.