Sender Verification Goes Mainstream

Challenge-response technology has been around for awhile and it is one solution to block spam. I sent an e-mail to someone yesterday in response to a press release they sent me. In response I received a challenge e-mail. This e-mail requested I respond to the e-mail to make sure the sender knows I am a real person and not an automated spam blaster. I did respond.

But of course the funny thing is that the sender sent me the first e-mail so my address should have been in their “good” list to begin with.

I found it quite ironic that while I was going through my spam folder today, I noticed an e-mail in the box saying I am now allowed to send e-mail to this person.

The concept of a spam folder is intriguing as I still have to check it. I spend at least 45 minutes each day checking this folder and I have many rules to not only ensure bad e-mail goes into this folder but rules to make sure good e-mail goes back into my inbox. I have other rules that permanently delete e-mail.

I recently wrote about Goodmail’s CertifiedEmail system. I hope systems like this enable us to reduce the torrent of spam messages we all receive.

Most importantly I hope technology gets us to the point where we don’t have to worry about having a crucial e-mail getting deleted accidentally. If we ever solve the spam problem I imagine world productivity will increase nicely. E-mail as a delivery system not only delivers spam but viruses and worms which also zap productivity.

  • Alan Gahtan
    November 7, 2005 at 1:24 pm

    I like the concept but this vendor’s product appears to be a proprietary implementation, not one based on an open standard. Also, their solution looks suitable for very large companies or very small ones (that utilize a large ISP for email), but not very suitable for smaller and medium sized businesses (particularly ones using a hosted exchange infrastructure).

  • telephone verification guy
    August 8, 2006 at 11:36 am

    The problem of spam will never be solved as it is a social phenomenon, not technical. If people spend money on spam advertising (give money to advertisers) spam will remain.

  • Rich Tehrani
    August 8, 2006 at 11:51 am

    Great point. How do we stop people from clicking on spam messages?

  • Ken
    July 14, 2007 at 12:17 am

    One idea would be to change all email software and web mail so that links can’t be simply clicked on to open a webpage. If a user had to copy-paste links into their browser, unless they were from someone on their friends list (or a known valid company using challenge/response email) This would I feel reduce the response rate for people sending junk mail by at least 95%

  • Steve
    April 28, 2008 at 10:50 am

    How exactly would your idea work Ken? I would assume that the email address on screen would have to be encoded to prevent these being picked up by spam bots and such. Which by the way is what most webmasters do anyway. Besides if an email address is already known how will this stop someone sending email to it? You would have to have some form of verification contained within the email that matches up with a value/string on your local machine, i.e. they cannot send you an email unless they know this value/string. Still it seems that what you suggest we already implement, unless i’m missing something, I just don’t see the difference?! Could you please explain further

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