June 7, 2007 6:14 AM PDT

Leading ISPs sign up for Goodmail antispam service

Five of the largest Internet service providers in the U.S. plan to start charging businesses for guaranteed delivery of their e-mails, in a bid to combat spam.

Goodmail Systems, which provides a service called CertifiedEmail, announced Thursday that it had signed up Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable's Road Runner and Verizon as customers. E-mails certified using the system will be marked with a blue ribbon to show they come from a trusted source, thus bypassing spam filters--a privilege that will cost the sender a quarter of a U.S. cent per e-mail.

The voluntary plan is aimed at large corporations and financial institutions whose mass mailings are most likely to be caught in spam filters. Nonprofit groups will be able to use the service for roughly a tenth of the commercial rate.

"With spam and phishing hitting historic highs even in the last six months, we have seen the limits of technologies which attempt to filter out the bad e-mail," Goodmail's chief executive, Richard Gingras, said in a statement. "Consumers want their e-mail system to let them know which e-mail is real and safe to open and act on."

Peter Castleton, director of Verizon's consumer broadband services, acknowledged that phishing and fraud were eroding trust in e-mail as a medium. "A certification service, such as CertifiedEmail, enables us to help restore that trust and makes it easier for consumers to identify legitimate e-mail messages," he said in a statement.

According to Goodmail, seven U.S. ISPs now use CertifedEmail, accounting for 60 percent of the U.S. population. Goodmail--which takes up to 50 percent of the revenue generated by the plan--will for now approve only mail sent by companies and organizations that have been operational for a year or more. Ordinary users can still apply to be white-listed by individual ISPs, which effectively provides the same trusted status.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
Time Warner Inc., spam filter, anti-spam, Internet Service Provider, Verizon Communications

17 comments

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Blackmail
This actually means there are services that can afford to pay 0.25 cents per emamil message to spam the service's userbase (OK, it's technically not spam. It's solicited as it's part of the service the IS{ provides: "prmotional messages from selected affilates").

It doesn't mean the end of spam. It doesn't mean the end of phishing. It doesn't apply to mail sent by individuals. It applies to mass mailings.

And BTW, phishing is trivial to avoid. Just don't use the same email address with your bank and either financial institutes as you use with all your friends/family/colleagues or post all around the web. dedicate an address for your bank. If a message from your bank comes to the address you only gave to your bank then you can probably trust it. If a message claims to be "from" your bank but comes to the address you use to sign up with certain unmentioanable websites, then it's not from your bank and you can smile and think what fools those phishers are thinking they could fool you. (Search the web for "disposable addresses".)

On the other hand spammers and phishers can put the blue ribbon on their email themselves. Many people would be fooled by that.

What is really needed is an easy way for non-technical people to to use multiple addresses: email clients should handle these for non-technical people. Banks should adopt them because they are a very effective way to avoid fraud (and allow the bank to push in ads on the unfiltered channel they get if they identify themselves properly and don't overdo it).
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
What's to stop the spammers from imitating the blue ribbon?
Posted by chabig83 (535 comments )
Link Flag
Another anti-phishing tip
If your bank emails you to notify you that your account statement is available or that you need to perform some type of action in your account, there is 0 reason you need to use links actually provided in the email to log into your account.

Always just log into yourbank.com in your browser to log into your account rather than clicking email links. If there is a message or bank statement for you, it will be available from your account after you log in.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Link Flag
My Idea
I think it would be better to charge a high rate for messages, but only if they've been rejected by the receiver as SPAM. As pointed out before if you're making money off the Viagra you're selling through these messages, it's no problem to pay.

On the other hand, if you sent out 100,000 messages at once with the cost being $1.00 for each one rejected, odds are it would stop the flow a lot better.

The "how" this is accomplished would have to be some kind of challenge/response type of message to all messages through is my initial thought. I'll let someone smarter then I am with more time to figure that part out ;-)
Posted by digit1001 (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wrong Idea.
Spam filters are supposed to block spam. Not block legitimate email. Paying so legitimate email gets through...is not helping me as a customer of those companies and it's not helping me as a user of those ISPs.

My own ISP is blocking some my outgoing email with spam filters. Their days are numbered if they don't get that fixed.

They need to find another way.
Posted by Renegade Knight (13748 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another Way
I agree 100%, however what is this "other way" that you are proposing? It is indeed sad that we have to pay our way from inbox to inbox, but it's life these days. Here's a small grievance that was written about how all of my messages (including legit ones that i wanted to read) were ending up in my spam box. <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://essentialsecurity.com/news.htm?pagename=Is_Your_Junk_Mail_Folder_Turning_Into_Your_Inbox?" target="_newWindow">http://essentialsecurity.com/news.htm?pagename=Is_Your_Junk_Mail_Folder_Turning_Into_Your_Inbox?</a>

With the amount of spam and the loopholes that spammers are getting around, paying for door to door service might be the only way to assure us that our emails arrive in inboxes.
Posted by Nkully86 (59 comments )
Link Flag
It's Still Spam
I don't care who these messages come from: Legitimate or otherwise, anything I didn't ask for is still spam. My own bank (a trusted source?) keeps bombarding me with special deals and offers and won't stop.

This anti-spam service won't be bypassing my spam filters anytime soon.
Posted by Marcus Westrup (630 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Change Banks!
My bank doesn't spam me. And the bank I had before that didn't. (USAA and Wells Fargo)
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Link Flag
SPAM problem already solved....
Just use a whitelist people! If someone wants to email you, they have to be on your whitelist.

It simply amazes me that people are still having problems with this when you can stop it so easily.

ChoiceMail 3.1 is free at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.download.com/ChoiceMail-Free/3000-2382_4-10129568.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.download.com/ChoiceMail-Free/3000-2382_4-10129568.html</a> .

If anyone gets an inbox full of spam it's because of their own ignorance.
Posted by Jim Hubbard (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not practical for all...
Whitelisting is great if you can guarantee that you already know 100% of all possible valid senders that you might want to receive mail from. The odds of actually having such information are slim unless you live in a vacuum.

Say you sent a message to a support e-mail address for some company. You whitelist the address you sent the e-mail to, but, oops! The response came from a different address! You never get it!

It amazes me that people think whitelisting is the answer to everything...
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
An even better solution:
Close your email account. You will not receive any spam at all!
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
not impressed
So someone figured out a way to extort money from big
corporations for the priveledge of spamming the world. Big deal.

Seeing some blue ribbon on a message will mean nothing to me,
except possibly to direct my mouse pointer to the "report as spam"
button faster.
Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I've had Zero Spam for the Last Three Years
<a href="http://corp.spamarrest.com/howitworks/">Spam
Arrest</a> has wiped out 100% of my SPAM for the last three
years.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.spamarrest.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.spamarrest.com</a>
Posted by sfrank212 (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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