Sender Authentication: What Is It, and How Can It Help You?
In the era introduced by the Can Spam Act, how can you make sure your e-mails aren’t immediately being filtered into a junk folder? Sender authentication recently has emerged as both an opportunity for direct marketers to identify themselves and a tool to identify illegal spammers.
Stephen Guerra, e-mail communications strategist for Atlanta-based Silverpop, a provider of permission-based e-mail marketing solutions, answers common questions about sender authentication and how it works.
Idea Factory: How will sender authentication help direct marketers?
Guerra: Sender authentication will first benefit direct marketers by allowing them to clearly identify themselves when sending to Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Secondly, it will help the ISPs identify legitimate e-mailers from senders who fraudulently attempt to disguise their identity.
Later, as real-time reputation systems gain acceptance, sender authentication will function to properly verify sender identity, so ISPs can then use reputation systems as reliable guides to determine from which senders they wish to accept messages.
IF: What standards have been developed for sender authentication?
Guerra: Sender authentication technologies are still new, and for the most part, their standard usage is still being determined. While many ISPs are using some of the sender authentication technologies, most agree it is too early to begin discarding incoming messages based on sender authentication. Some of the largest ISPs have indicated they will likely first begin providing their users an indicator for messages that have failed sender-authentication tests.
IF: How does sender authentication prevent false positives?
Guerra: When you consider a prospective employee you will likely run a background check on them to get some idea of their repuation. Before you can do that, you have to verify they are who they say they are by examining some form of identification such as a driver’s license. In the world of e-mail, sender authentication is the driver’s license, and a reputation system is the background check. Taken together, these two technologies can allow ISPs to make better decisions when they decide to block or accept messages.