Security measures successfully reducing online spam and phishing

11th Dec 2013 | 16:04

Security measures successfully reducing online spam and phishing

Email authentication helping to decrease spam sent to users

It seems that getting untrustworthy-looking emails in your inbox are now becoming a thing of the past. Google safety researchers have announced that efforts to stop email scams are slowly but surely eradicating the threat they pose due to the development of stringent authentication standards.

Internet industry groups have been introducing email providers to the use of authentication to end impersonation since 2004. The initial difficulty at that time was in creating a set of rules and standards that the domains would agree with and use, and one that took time in working around.

Now Elie Bursztein and Vijay Eranti, members of Google's anti-abuse research team, have announced that the standards adopted (DKIM and SPF) are being widely used, possibly by millions of domains across the web.

Blocked in the billions

According to their findings, 91.4% of non-spam emails sent to Google Mail users now come from authenticated sources. The measures taken to ensure that emails are authenticated have made it far easier for mail clients to block spam and phishing attempts, which still number in the billions every year.

The figures released by the pair shows some of the staggering challenges that protecting email users entails. More than 3.5 million domains use the SPF standard on a weekly basis, accounting for 89.1% of emails sent to Gmail. The DKIM standard is used by half a million more domains, while 74.7% of all incoming emails to Gmail accounts are authenticated by both standards.

This means that Google is able to reject the hundreds of millions of unauthenticated emails that target user accounts every week and amounts for roughly 8.6% of all incoming mail globally.

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