I'm a big fan of authentication. Here are some positive aspects of authentication:
- It WILL make a big dent in spoofing, phishing, and fraud, right away. Why? Because those particular elements of the 'Internet Axis of Evil' are identity-based. Therefore, identity authentication will either stop those things, make it easier for consumers to steer clear of them, or make it easier for law enforcement to go after them.
- It WILL NOT make a big dent in spam right away. Why? Because spam is much more nuanced than fraud. If I'm Microsoft, and I know that you are the particular sender of an e-mail into my network, that's all good and well. But I might not have any idea if I want to accept that mail. Another way of saying this: Spammers can publish sender ID records too.
- It WILL lay the foundation for longer-term spam solutions. Why? Because it is important to understand exactly who is sending mail into a network in order to answer that next question of "do I want to accept your mail?"
Authentication is the precursor for both reputation and accreditation. Once ISPs can identify who you are, they can decide whether they like you or not. Lots of factors play into this decision, including complaint rates, identity stability, unknown user volume, security practices, unsubscribe policies and more.
When it comes to reaching the e-mail inbox, one thing is clear: It is not automatic, nor is it an easy path. Vigilance is required by all e-mail senders to make sure they are keeping up with the technologies and best practices necessary to keep their customers happy -- and avoid negative perceptions by e-mail receivers making filtering decisions.
Disclosure: Return Path owns Bonded Sender and Sender Score, two accreditation services.