Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Google Apps Adds an Anti-Spam Weapon to Its Arsenal

One of the most frustrating aspects of the battle against spam over the last several years has concerned overly aggressive filters. You can be a perfectly innocent person sending a perfectly routine email, yet the spam filter on the other end of the line treats your message as if it came from a dodgy pharmaceutical company in Kazakhstan, and diverts it to the spam folder. There are lots of reasons this can happen, but one of the most common is when those who are actually sending spam falsely place your email address in their “reply” field.

The way to solve that problem, and this is especially true of companies, governments and nonprofits whose domains are often used for the purposes of spamming, is to vouch for the messages you do send, making it easier for spam filters to correctly catch the ones that really are spam.

One widely used method of doing this is by using DomainKeys Identified Mail. DKIM is an industry consortium that over the years has absorbed similar email security work done by Yahoo and Cisco Systems. One key problem is that it’s tricky to put DKIM in place.

Google announced today that its Google Apps customers will get a new feature that easily enables DKIM-certified mail. Google has long supported the DKIM standard, and in 2008 worked with eBay and PayPal to authenticate inbound messages from those domains. Now Google Apps customers can get the same certification. DKIM-signing for outbound messages will be enabled for Google Apps customers who turn on the feature in the “Advanced Tools” tab of their dashboard. Take that, spammers.