Computer Crime Research Center


Computer crime: Yahoo! teams Cisco to fight spam

Date: June 03, 2005
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Network equipment maker Cisco Systems and internet portal Yahoo! are combining their efforts to combat email spam and forgery in a step that's expected to help expand adoption of the technology.

The move, announced on Wednesday, combines two techniques that rely on cryptography to help determine whether the sender of an email message is legitimate. Sending messages using a false address is a common tactic of spammers.

"This is the first time that we've had something fundamental to the mail system that the vendors could get together and agree on," said Sendmail chief technology officer Eric Allman, an email pioneer who helped merge the technologies. "That's an amazing thing right there."

The combined technology, DomainKeys Identified Mail, borrows elements from Yahoo!'s Domainkeys and Cisco's Internet Identified Mail system.

Though there are technical differences, both attach scrambled digital signatures to mail, which then can be checked to ensure that it was actually sent from the domain in the sender's address. Users typically won't see the information unless they view the message's header.

"We made the decision that, on the surface level, it was going look more like DomainKeys than IIM," Mr Allman said. "At this point, Yahoo! has more of an installed base than Cisco has. We wanted to with the way that would be the easiest upgrade path."

Both Yahoo! and Google's Gmail have deployed Domainkeys. Yahoo!'s email service received more than 350 million messages signed by Domainkeys each day, said Miles Libbey, anti-spam product manager for Yahoo Mail.

Other companies, including Microsoft, have proposed other anti-spam technologies. Eventually, such a system is expected to become part of the internet email standard.
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