Sender ID, sender policy framework help e-mail reputation: Katz

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BOSTON - For e-mail marketers, building a good reputation takes a good sender policy framework.

That is what Harry Katz, program manager at Microsoft Corp. and co-author of Sender ID Framework, said today at the Authentication and Online Trust Summit in a session called "Sender ID Framework Implementation Update" regarding the use of a sender policy to get mail delivered.

"For senders, Sender ID protects the brand and helps prevent being spoofed," he said. "And for receivers, it gives them a way to build trust in what they are receiving."

Hotmail considers a number of factors in allowing delivery of a message, including filtering, traffic management, reputation, content filtering and personalization.

The postmaster also looks for the sending and receiving Internet provider to make sure that these are consistent and confirm that this IP address is approved. Having a strong SPF record, then, is key for mailers.

"To get an SPF record together, treat it like a real project," Mr. Katz said. "Start planning, form a project team, obtain executive sponsorship and involve all stakeholders."

Having a reputation does not always mean having a good reputation. Therefore, e-mail senders should strive to maintain a good reputation through a strong sender policy framework record.

"The fact that an e-mail message passes some kind of authentication does not mean that it is good mail," Mr. Katz said. "Like a driver's license, it has your personal information to verify who you are, but it has no record of your driving record."

Reputation is based on behavioral factors such as the amount of traffic sent, complaints received, the longevity of a domain name and the IP address from which mail is sent.

Having a good reputation helps deliverability, too. Hotmail reports an 85 percent reduction in false positives for senders using Sender ID.

Hotmail also reports blocking 20 million spoofed e-mails each day, protecting valid brands from being taken advantage of.

According to Mr. Katz, 49.7 percent of mail sent from an eBay.com e-mail address is spoofed mail, but the sender's legitimate mail is delivered 100 percent of the time because of reputation.

Expect Sender ID to grow in the future.

Many Hotmail customers have suggested that Microsoft delete all mail that doesn't have a good reputation. Another idea is to notify domain-holders when they are being spoofed to help the domain-holder stop a spoofer.

In addition, consumers might have more control in determining the mail that gets through.

"Instead of deleting it outright, we might put it into quarantine that users can go into and see if it's something that they really want," Mr. Katz said.

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