AOTA calls businesses to adopt e-mail authentication tools

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The adoption of e-mail and domain authentication has reached its tipping point, exceeding 50% in several key metrics, according to the Authentication and Online Trust Alliance.

The AOTA researched Fortune 500 companies and Internet retailers, including financial organizations BB&T, Charles Schwab Corp., MetLife, Nationwide Mutual Insurance, Progressive Corp. and Wells Fargo; consumer brands Amazon, BlockBuster, Home Depot, Nordstrom, OfficeMax, Target and Walt Disney; and technology firms Dell, eBay, IBM and Microsoft to see which among them is using Sender ID and DomainKeys Identified Mail, the leading standards of authentication. The report found that 51% of the Fortune 500's consumer-facing brands, 52% of the Fortune 500's consumer-facing financial service brands and 54% of the top 300 brands in the Internet retailer segment are all using some form of e-mail authentication.

“E-mail authentication has reached the tipping point,” said Craig Spiezle, chairman of AOTA and director of Internet security and privacy at Microsoft Corp. “The latest research is a testament to how these organizations are stepping up to protect their brands and consumer trust.”

After a five-month review of more than 100 million e-mails from Fortune 500 brands, AOTA reports more than 50% of legitimate e-mail sent worldwide on a daily basis from more than 15 million domain holders is authenticated.

Still, spam and phishing continue to be problems, as the report found that 80% of e-mail that appears to be sent from leading brands, banks and ISPs is actually spoofed and sent by spammers.

“As spam continues to amplify, consumers are losing trust in messages in their inbox,” Spiezle added.

In response to the report's findings, the AOTA has issued a call for compliance of all consumer-facing e-commerce and online financial services sites to adopt one or more forms of outbound e-mail authentication for their top-level corporate domain within the next six months.

“Brand marketers need to start to look at the issue of trust as a core success metric for their marketing efforts and the customer experience,” said David Atlas of Goodmail.

The organization is also encouraging ISPs to implement inbound e-mail authentication verification in the next six months.

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