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Yahoo Wants DomainKeys as Industry Standard

Though e-mail marketing firms lauded Yahoo's and Cisco's move this week toward making their e-mail authentication technology DomainKeys an industry-wide standard, they said it was not enough.

“DomainKeys is a good step but is only a piece of the overall puzzle,” said Kevin George, chief operating officer at e-mail agency Quris Inc., Denver. Accreditation and reputation services must be added to make an authentication program successful, he said.

Yahoo, Cisco, EarthLink, AOL, IMB, Microsoft, Sendmail and other companies said Monday that they are submitting DomainKeys Identified Mail, a technology already used by Yahoo to authenticate e-mail, to the Internet Engineering Task Force for consideration as a new e-mail industry standard.

The industry will discuss the proposal at the IETF meeting in Paris starting July 31. Yahoo is urging the industry to study the standards at www.ietf.org.

“Encryption-based authentication, such as DKIM, provides the most protection available against domain spoofing by spammers,” said Chip House, deliverability expert at e-mail solutions firm ExactTarget, Indianapolis.

But the industry does not embrace DomainKeys because the technology requires new hardware and software for both senders and receivers and lowers sending and receiving speeds, House said.

“So even though it is a 'better' long-term solution — that Microsoft has hinted they will also eventually embrace — it will be some time before a majority of the sending and receiving community are supporting DKIM,” he said.

DomainKeys validates e-mails by verifying the sender's domain and the integrity of messages. It provides e-mail users with another level of protection against e-mail forgery, often used in phishing attacks, Yahoo said.

“DKIM was developed so that businesses and consumers will have a stronger, more accurate means for identifying legitimate e-mail messages,” Yahoo and Cisco said in a statement.

Despite reservations, e-mail marketers welcome authentication efforts that return credibility to the industry and crack down on spammers and phishers.

“The e-mail marketing channel has been under attack for quite a while, [but] we're at the tipping point for revitalization,” George said. New technologies, as well as increased law enforcement and legislation against spammers and phishers, are helping revitalize the industry, he added.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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