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Yahoo and email filtering

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Thursday February 14, 2008 )

DomainKeys Internet Mail (DKIM), originally developed by Yahoo! as a way of combatting/tracking spam, became a standard last year and with adoption rising rapidly around the web does this mean Yahoo! will start blocking non-DKIM signed emails soon?

The short answer is no; but it will be subject to more intense filtering.

I’ll just back up here a sec – what is DKIM?

I’m certainly no expert on this, so I’ll defer to Wikipedia’s definition: “DomainKeys is an e-mail authentication system designed to verify the DNS domain of an e-mail sender and the message integrity” Read more about what DKIM is here.

You’ll notice in the header of any email coming from Yahoo is something like this:

DomainKey-Signature: a=lkfj-lfjd; q=dns; c=nofws; s=s1824; … followed by a few more bits.

Try sending an email to yourself from your own domain or ISP to see if that line is present – if not; domainkeys isn’t being used.

According to Mark Risher, anti-abuse product manager for Yahoo Mail, over 40% of inbound mail traffic to Yahoo Mail is now using DomainKeys – that equates to more than 1 billion messages a day. I’m guessing Mark means 40% of *legitimate* email given that spam is the majority of all mail these days.

Within 18 months, all of the top financial institutions will use DKIM. These communications will gain special priviliges with services such as Yahoo!; wheras the communications from the “unwashed masses” of non DKIM users will be put under further scrutiny; so we can likely expect to see more filtering of legitimate, but unsigned emails into user’s bulk folders – or not making it through altogether.

Like I said, even though DomainKeys has been around for a while, I really haven’t delved into it too deeply; but it seems it’s high time I did – and perhaps you should too; particularly if email marketing is an important part of your online business.

You can take a closer peek at some of the future plans Yahoo has in store for email filtering here.

Pick up some more tips about improving email delivery.


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