ESPC to Prospective Members: Adopt SPF, or Else

The E-Mail Service Provider Coalition (ESPC) is taking another stand in support of email authentication standards. It’s requiring new members be compliant with SPF version 1, and says all current members are either compliant or getting there. The organization also released a testing tool that enables senders to ensure their authentication systems are working.

“This [compliance requirement] is not something that I expect any of our members to be concerned about,” said Trevor Hughes, executive director of the ESPC. “Frankly, any ESP that’s not sending in those protocols is going to suffer in the marketplace.”

The new membership requirement is part of the ESPC’s push for the widespread adoption of email authentication. E-mail authentication, which lets receivers of email determine whether or not a message is from who it appears to be from, is aimed at combating increasingly popular scams like spoofing and phishing. It’s also thought to be a first step toward combating spam.

SPF version 1 performs authentication by verifying the bounce address of the sender, but Sender ID, which combines SPF with Microsoft’s Caller ID for E-Mail, takes authentication a step further. Sender ID verifies the “from” address the end user sees in the inbox, making it potentially more valuable to companies eager to protect their brands.

The ESPC released a testing tool designed by steering committee member SKYLIST. It allows mailers to ensure their systems are compliant with Sender ID. The tool lets users send an email from the domain they are testing. It generates a report on that email, telling users whether SPF and Sender ID validate properly. The tool is available on the ESPC Web site at http://www.espcoalition.org/senderid/.

“The testing application will prove to be invaluable to any organization that sends email as they move to comply with Sender ID,” said Hughes.

Hughes said SKYLIST developed the tool in response to discussions held at the Sender ID summit hosted by Microsoft earlier this month.

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