Yahoo, Cisco Combine Anti-Spam Efforts

The technology merges two cryptography-based techniques to help determine whether the E-mail's sender is legitimate.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)--Network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. and Internet portal Yahoo Inc. are combining their efforts to combat E-mail spam and forgery in a step that's expected to help expand adoption of the technology.

The move, announced Wednesday, combines two techniques that rely on cryptography to help determine whether the sender of an E-mail message is legitimate. Sending messages using a false address is a common tactic of spammers.

"This is the first time that we've had something fundamental to the mail system that the vendors could get together and agree on," said Sendmail Chief Technology Officer Eric Allman, an E-mail pioneer who helped merge the technologies. "That's an amazing thing right there."

The combined technology, DomainKeys Identified Mail, borrows elements from Yahoo's Domainkeys and Cisco's Internet Identified Mail (IIM) system.

Though there are technical differences, both attach scrambled digital signatures to mail, which then can be checked to ensure that it was actually sent from the domain in the sender's address. Users typically won't see the information unless they view the message's header.

"We made the decision that, on the surface level, it was going look more like DomainKeys than IIM," Allman said. "At this point, Yahoo has more of an installed base than Cisco has. We wanted to with the way that would be the easiest upgrade path."

Both Yahoo and Google Inc.'s Gmail have deployed Domainkeys. Yahoo's e-mail service is receiving more than 350 million messages signed by Domainkeys each day, said Miles Libbey, anti-spam product manager for Yahoo Mail.

Other companies, including Microsoft Corp., have proposed other antispam technologies. Eventually, such a system is expected to become part of the Internet E-mail standard.

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