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Email Authentication Hits the Mainstream as the Largest Internet Service Providers Authenticate Messages

Email Sender and Provider Coalition Reports AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo! and 15 Other ISPs Authenticate Incoming Messages

CHICAGO and YORK, ME-April 18, 2006 -- Today, at the Email Authentication Summit II, the Email Sender and Provider Coalition (ESPC) announced the availability of an ESPC Email Authentication Report demonstrating rapid adoption of authentication standards by 18 of the nation's largest Internet Service Providers. The report shows AOL. Microsoft and Yahoo!, whose combined email accounts receive over 50 percent of the commercial email in the country, support at least one of the current authentication standards.

The ESPC's Receiver Relations Committee is a group dedicated to facilitating better understanding and ongoing dialogue between the sender and the receiver communities. Over the past few months, the Committee collaborated with leading ISPs and compiled authentication information about their email programs. The result of their efforts is a report providing a list of ISPs and the types of email authentication they currently support for either IP-based (Sender ID and SPF) or cryptographic (DomainKeys and DKIM) solutions. The report is a powerful representation of the broad based endorsement of authentication by receivers today.

Designed as the first step to curb abusive email practices, authentication enables legitimate senders to protect their brands and ensure they maintain a trusted email relationship with their customers. As the ESPC Email Authentication Report shows, authentication is in use by many of the top ISPs, and is becoming increasingly important as it moves beyond the ISP to the corporate mail server as enterprises also implement the standards.

"To help ensure legitimate email reaches consumer inboxes at work and home, its imperative that authentication mechanisms like Sender ID continue to gain broad adoption and use by email senders and receivers worldwide," said Craig Spiezle, director of Microsoft Corp.'s Technology Care and Safety Group. "This report shows we've made great progress during the past year. However, we need to continue helping senders understand the value of authenticating email to help ensure greater email deliverability."

ESPC Advocates Adoption of Authentication Protocols for Senders
Authentication influences email performance in several ways. First, ISPs or receivers use the data in combination with reputation data to determine if a message should be delivered and if it should be delivered to the junk folder or the inbox. Authentication can also influence how a recipient views a message in their mailbox. In some cases, receivers provide prompts in the user's inbox depending on whether the message was authenticated or not. If the message is not authenticated, users may be prompted to proceed with more caution before responding or clicking on links. Consequently, senders who authenticate are viewed more favorably by both receivers and recipients.

"Yahoo! Mail has been signing its outbound email with DomainKeys for more than a year, and we're currently receiving more than a billion DomainKeys signed messages each day," said Miles Libbey, anti-spam product manager, Yahoo! Mail. "As the largest Web mail service in the U.S. and the world, we are excited about the benefits and the growing momentum of this technology."

As a requirement for membership, ESPC members must implement one or more authentication protocols for their corporate and affiliate email. In November 2005, the ESPC announced research finding 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies authenticated email, demonstrating a strong show of support from those sending email. The ESPC supports all major authentication standards and adoption rates by ISPs are evenly split between IP based and cryptographic standards.

"Legitimate email marketers and ESPs have been quick to respond by adopting authentication over the last year to ensure their mail makes it to inboxes of leading ISPs," said Trevor Hughes, executive director of the ESPC. "We're happy to see receivers take a stand by adopting authentication as the industry takes a step closer to becoming a unified force for authentication, accreditation and reputation - the combination of which is the only way to stop spam and fraudulent email."

To download the ESPC Email Authentication Report: http://www.espcoalition.org/ESPC_Authentication_Report.pdf

Also at the Email Authentication Summit II, the ESPC released a reputation position statement that outlines guiding principles of email reputation and provides a framework for public and private reputation services. Please visit www.espcoalition.org for more information.


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