Yahoo developing anti-spam technology

8 Dec 2003

Internet services giant Yahoo has revealed that it is working to develop a new technology to combat e-mail spam. The company’s ‘Domain Keys’ technology is aimed at changing the way the internet works in terms of authenticating the sender.

Under the Domain Keys technology, which Yahoo hopes to launch in 2004, a system sending an email message would embed a secure, private key in a message header. The receiving email system would check the internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) for the public key registered to the sending domain.

If the key is able to decrypt the private key embedded in the message, then the email is considered authentic and can be delivered. If not, then the message is assumed not to be authentic and would be blocked.

Around the world, governments are working on legislation to reduce spam, but in the interim a number of companies have stepped in with technology proposals designed to filter and block unsolicited email.

The reasons for Yahoo and software makers such as Microsoft to try to combat the problem are clear; spam is eroding business and consumer confidence in the internet and email. In 2001 spam accounted for 8pc of email messages. By this summer this figure had grown to over 50pc and month-on-month rises of 20pc are being recorded in some cases. Close to 80pc of email messages are now estimated to be spam.

By John Kennedy