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A new net to catch Phishing lures
Written by Daniel   
Friday, 25 May 2007 13:26
New Spec Could Cut Phishing, Spam
MAY 23, 2007 | Phishers and spammers beware: It may soon be a lot harder to pretend you're somebody you're not.

The Internet Engineering Task Force, which sets the technical standards for the Internet, yesterday approved the DomainKeys Identified Mail standard as a proposed standard (RFC 4871). The specification, a three-year effort pioneered by Yahoo!, Cisco, Sendmail, and PGP, is an email authentication framework that uses cryptographic signature technology to verify the domain of the sender.

In a nutshell, DKIM allows email senders to "sign" each email to verify that it comes from their domain. If the receiving domain handles an email that does not contain the signature, it can raise a red flag to warn the recipient that the message might be a fake.

"For years, one of the big problems in Internet messaging has been the ability of a sender to use any 'from' address," says Jim Fenton, a distinguished engineer at Cisco and one of the authors of the standard. "Without too much work, you can say you're just about anybody in an email."

DKIM was created from two technologies developed several years ago: Yahoo!'s DomainKeys, which was developed for Yahoo! email users; and Cisco's Identified Internet Mail. With the help of PGP, Sendmail, and input from a host of other vendors, Yahoo! and Cisco combined their efforts into DKIM, which is already being integrated into email services, such as Gmail.

DKIM is designed to be implemented at the domain level and shouldn't require any changes at the client, developers say. Essentially, a domain owner -- such as an Internet service provider or a large corporation -- equips its servers with the ability to "sign" outgoing messages, verifying their authenticity.

On the other end, email security servers and applications can be set to look for the DKIM signature in incoming messages, giving priority to signed mail and red-flagging unsigned messages for further scrutiny, or warning end users of potential problems... More

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