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DMA Advises E-mailers to Embrace Sender Authentication

By Jun 29, 2004

Marketers using e-mail should get themselves up to speed on e-mail sender authentication, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

The DMA is alerting its members – and recommending to all e-mail marketers – to sender authentication practices and technology. According to the organization, “[sender authentication] will protect your brand by defending against spammers who increasingly are feigning legitimate corporate identities in their e-mails to get through spam filters and scam consumers.”

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may be able to launch authentication systems as early as October 2004. These systems include AOL’s proposed Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Microsoft’s Caller ID for e-mail. Using these, ISPs will be able to verify that messages are, in fact, being sent from the entities claiming to do so.

“We think it is important for legitimate e-mail marketers to start making plans for this now,” said Jordan Cohen, a DMA spokesman. “If they don’t take these steps, they will be left on the outside looking in.”

Sender authentication is still in development, and even when it is up and running won’t be a magic bullet that stops all spam, according to a statement from DMA.

That could entail marketers being blocked from delivering their messages to half of all e-mail addresses worldwide, according to Cohen.

The DMA recommends that marketers secure their servers against spammers’ ability to connect to them. Not doing so allows spammers to send bulk e-mail anonymously, as well as overloading server capacity.

The organization also suggests that marketers register their companies with the SPF, which will put marketers on “white lists” of complying companies. To register with SPF, go to: http://spf.pobox.com/ and select “wizard.” SPF has set up a Web page specific for network administrators or other IT generalists here: http://spf.pobox.com/forsysadmins.html