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Sender Policy Framework

Press Release/2007-04-21

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US Financial Services Industry Group Endorses SPF

April 21, 2007BITS, a nonprofit industry consortium formed by many of the largest financial institutions in the USA, has announced their BITS Email Security Toolkit white-paper, describing "protocols and recommendations for reducing the risks" in institutions' e-mail correspondence, addressing prominent problems such as identity forgery and phishing (password fishing). BITS held an industry e-mail security summit in November 2006, which developed these recommendations. The SPF Project participated in this summit.

The BITS Email Security Toolkit points out, and recommends to BITS members the deployment of, three major complementary technologies that are considered to provide a significant contribution "to [mitigating] the threat to email security and [restoring] customer confidence in email as a channel of communication with financial institutions":

  • Transport Layer Security (TLS) (an update to the well-known SSL) for message transport confidentiality and server-to-server authentication,
  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Sender ID (a Microsoft derivative of SPF) for sender address authentication, and
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) for sender authentication and message integrity.

According to BITS, SPF is a computationally light-weight means for protecting the credibility and reputation of brands and domains while improving the deliverability of messages and reducing the volume of non-delivery receipts received by spoofed domains. It also acknowledges the ease of deploying SPF.

Specifically, the BITS Email Security Toolkit calls for e-mail senders and recipients to:

  • publish SPF records for both e-mail and non-e-mail domains enabling sender authentication within eighteen months,
  • enable SPF record validation on incoming e-mail immediately,
  • publish SPF records as (hard) "Fail" (-all) as opposed to "SoftFail" (~all), which should only be used while testing out one's SPF record,
  • honor records in receiving environments that are published as (hard) "Fail", and reject failing messages.

"We welcome the initiative of BITS and we support their clear recommendations for financial institutions to deploy SPF in combination with other e-mail security technologies", says Scott Kitterman, member of the SPF Council, the project's steering committee. "Sender address forgery is among the biggest problems of the e-mail medium and provides significant potential for criminal conduct. However, SPF is not just for banks and insurance companies. Anyone with a domain or a mail server, ranging from governments through sports clubs to hobbyist individuals, can benefit from protecting their domain and brand name with an SPF policy and checking SPF on incoming e-mails."

About the SPF Project

The SPF Project was founded in 2003 by Meng Weng Wong and other dedicated internet technologists to act against the increasing levels of e-mail sender address forgery by spammers, imposters, and computer viruses. The project has developed the sender authentication technology called Sender Policy Framework, which aims to fix various ambiguities in the standards underlying the e-mail system that have essentially remained unchanged since their inception in 1982. SPF allows domain owners to define who may and may not send mail using their domain names.

For additional details about Sender Policy Framework see:

About the SPF Council

The SPF Council is a group of participants elected by the SPF Project's community who are commissioned to steer and represent the project based on community consensus. The council drives the project's technology standardization and research efforts, and maintains contact with other e-mail anti-abuse initiatives and industry organizations.

For additional details and news about the SPF Council see:

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Last edited 2012-04-18 22:39 (UTC) by Scott Kitterman (diff)