Internet Supergroup Formed to Defeat Email Scams

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Sick of dealing with — or worse, falling for — spam emails that claim to come from companies like Facebook, Yahoo, Google or the like? Hope is at hand, as those companies (and many others) have joined together to create a new system to verify where your emails come from.

The Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance system — or DMARC — is the result of more than a year of collaboration between companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, PayPal, AOL and LinkedIn, as well as non-internet businesses such as Bank of America, Fidelity Investments and others.

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Described as “a technical specification [reducing] the potential for email-based abuse by solving a couple of long-standing operational, deployment, and reporting issues related to email authentication protocols,” DMARC standardizes email authentication across multiple services and platforms, reducing the likelihood of spam successfully fooling systems (and users) into believing that it comes from a trusted source.

Currently, AOL, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail all use DMARC to authenticate senders, with Gmail product manager Adam Dawes telling CNet, “About 15 percent of all e-mail in the Gmail in-boxes comes from these organizations that have published these DMARC records… That means that these records can not be domain spoofed.”

According to the DMARC site, not only are the DMARC policies available to everyone via the public Domain Name System, but the group plans to submit draft specification to the Internet Engineering Task Force for standardization. More information about DMARC and the organizations involved in its creation is available here.

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Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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