Because spammers typically forge E-mail header information to make messages appear to originate from someone or someplace else, E-mail authentication is widely seen as critical among E-mail and Internet service providers, as well as pretty much every other legitimate company doing business on the Internet. Among the various authentication methods, "challenge/response" systems are well-suited for individual users, as opposed to business users who may benefit from more-automated approaches.
Microsoft and Yahoo are each backing authentication schemes, Sender ID and DomainKeys, respectively, both of which have support from other companies, including AOL. Microsoft has said that it will start checking messages sent to MSN's Hotmail for authenticity on Oct. 1.
Dave Anderson, president and CEO of E-mail infrastructure company Sendmail Inc., expects authentication to be the norm within a year. In a June poll of 120 IT professionals, the company found that 58% of companies plan to implement authentication technology in the next 12 months, and 10% of them intend to do so as soon as possible.