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Certified Email Not Here to Reduce Spam

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the you've-got-spam dept.

197

An anonymous reader writes "Goodmail CEO Richard Gingras surprised Legislators and advocacy groups today when he announced that the CertifiedMail program being implemented by AOL and Yahoo is not meant to reduce spam. Rather than helping to reduce spam Gingras claimed that the point is to allow users to verify who important messages are really from, like a message from your bank or credit card company."

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197 comments

Also (4, Interesting)

MankyD (567984) | about 8 years ago | (#15109756)

Perhaps also to work as an effective, if limited, white list. Not only will it tell you what emails are "important" but it would certainly be an easy to way to keep a small-sized good-guy mailing list.

Re:Also (2, Insightful)

wish bot (265150) | about 8 years ago | (#15110076)

However, I wouldn't want to be getting email from my credit card company or bank, and I certainly don't want to encourage them to start sending important info by email.

Besides the obvious problem of everything being intercepted by NSA+AT&T in the first place, it will only make it more difficult to tell phishing from the real thing, mainly because you'll be expecting it to be trustworthy. Old phishing techniques may have used mass mailings which could be blocked by spam filters, but that's not necessarily the case any more.

Re:Also (4, Interesting)

tsm_sf (545316) | about 8 years ago | (#15110117)

Maybe we need an anti-phishing motto along the lines of publishing's "money flows towards the writer" (aka Yog's Law [sff.net]). Something like "you travel to the bank, the bank doesn't travel to you" to discourage unsuspecting email link clickers.

Mod Parent UP (1)

wish bot (265150) | about 8 years ago | (#15110172)

I think that's actually a really sensible idea. In fact I think I'd go as far as saying that the best idea for combating phishing that I've ever heard.

The big problem is - of course - convincing the banks to promote the idea in a consistent way.

As predicted (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15109761)

As predicted... sell the government one thing and change it in post-production.

Re:As predicted (2, Informative)

Kelson (129150) | about 8 years ago | (#15110037)

Are you kidding? This is what they've been saying all along. The media frenzy has been... inconsistent with what AOL, Goodmail, and Yahoo! have actually been saying in their press releases.

Of course, AOL wasn't terribly consistent even with themselves early on, but if you think Goodmail billed this as an anti-spam solution, you've clearly only been paying cursory attention to the story.

Secondary Effects (2, Insightful)

Kuukai (865890) | about 8 years ago | (#15109762)

Rather than helping to reduce spam Gingras claimed that the point is to allow users to verify who important messages are really from, like a message from your bank or credit card company

...leading to more efficent prevention of phishing, and ultimately... reducing.. spam... D'oh!

Re:Secondary Effects (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 8 years ago | (#15109797)

Only if all of the banks and credit card companies use it, only if it is sufficiently standardized, and only if users are smart enough to notice that the message isn't "verified".

The problem is, if most of the users were smart enough to realize that, we wouldn't have phishing because people wouldn't fall for it in the first place. I mean, it isn't exactly hard for users to realize that http://666.43.123.666/bankofamerica/mylogin.php [666.43.123.666] isn't a valid BOA website. If they can't figure that out, why do you think this will be any different?

*sigh*

Re:Secondary Effects (2)

Tackhead (54550) | about 8 years ago | (#15109923)

> Only if all of the banks and credit card companies use it, only if it is sufficiently standardized, and only if users are smart enough to notice that the message isn't "verified".
>
> The problem is, if most of the users were smart enough to realize that, we wouldn't have phishing because people wouldn't fall for it in the first place. I mean, it isn't exactly hard for users to realize that http://666.43.123.666/bankofamerica/mylogin.php [666.43.123.666] isn't a valid BOA website. If they can't figure that out, why do you think this will be any different?

Exactly. This email is (img src=http://myphishingsite.com/yourbank/verified.gi f)Verified!(/img).

And if you require any sort of verification that's stronger than a .gif, well, it's going to involve the email client executing something with the form of (script language = "exploit.js")

And if you go to two-factor authentication (like Bank of America did with "Sitekey"), you'll just further inconvenience the users on secure systems.

My box: lives behind NAT, and my web browser drops cookies after every session. User experience? Go to bank site, enter ID/pass. Because the cookie no longer exists, it doesn't "recognize" my box. So I have to enter a challenge question (one of 3 variations of "What's your mother's middle name", which means I have to remember three more passwords), and then enter my regular password a second time. I know I'm not being phished, because I see my "SiteKey" challenge image - but if I had been phished, I'd have already given up the keys to the kingdom.

Some Insecure Luser's Box: Is already compromised and is running any one of a zillion keyloggers. Cookie is present, so luser is prompted only for ID, not ID/pass. Luser enters ID, which is picked up by keylogger. Luser is shown their "SiteKey" challenge image - but the author of the keylogger doesn't give a rat's ass if it's correct or not. He logs the password. Luser is pwn3d.

The weakest link in this case isn't the end user, so much as it's the dumbfuck management at BofA who got sold a gallon of snake oil [schneier.com]

Re:Secondary Effects (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | about 8 years ago | (#15110232)

I know I'm not being phished, because I see my "SiteKey" challenge image - but if I had been phished, I'd have already given up the keys to the kingdom.

So... You're saying that SiteKey works in that scenario?

Luser enters ID, which is picked up by keylogger. Luser is shown their "SiteKey" challenge image - but the author of the keylogger doesn't give a rat's ass if it's correct or not. He logs the password. Luser is pwn3d.

How the hell is a website supposed to prevent keylogging?

The weakest link in this case isn't the end user, so much as it's the dumbfuck management at BofA who got sold a gallon of snake oil

The article you linked to barely mentions SiteKey, with no criticism. Was that the right article?

Can't login (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15109947)

It appears that site you posted, http://666.43.123.666/bankofamerica/mylogin.php [666.43.123.666], has already been slashdotted. Anyone know a mirror where I can login to my account?

Re:Can't login (2, Funny)

deep44 (891922) | about 8 years ago | (#15110080)

I usually hop on one of the bankofamerica.com.geocities.com mirrors, but they also seem to be down right now (or somebody forgot to pay their hosting bill). When this has happened in the past, I usually just open my windows and start shouting my SSN and major credit card numbers until somebody steals my identity.

It's not so easy anymore. (1)

raehl (609729) | about 8 years ago | (#15110437)

I'm a pretty smart guy. I'm 27 and have been using computers for 18 years, online for 17 and on the internet since '95 or so.

I am starting to get emails where it is very difficult to tell if they are real or not - both fake emails that look real and REAL emails that look fake. Figuring out which is which takes time, and about a month ago I actually fell for my first phishing scam about 2 months ago (for an eBay password; I had just gotten up and didn't realize the email that looked EXACTLY like the other seller question emails I get wasn't legit. I wouldnt have fallen for it if it asked for a SS number or something.)

But why should I have to spend time figuring these things out? If there was a service that marked certified mail in one color and non-certified mail in another and gave certified mail delivery priority, that's a good thing. Saves me time, and makes spam less profitable, saving me more time.

Re:Secondary Effects (2, Insightful)

slashname3 (739398) | about 8 years ago | (#15109938)

Actually none of the ISPs have any interest in reducing spam. They make to much money off of the spam operators and the sites that host the products provided by the spammers. Taking actual measures to reduce spam would cost the ISPs to much money.

Instead, they want to make money from legimate companies that want to get their messages to end users. This is a win win for the ISPs, but does nothing for end users.

As discussed many times here the only way to defeat spam is to choke off the money flow to the people that use spam to advertise. There are two ways to stop the flow of money. First is to go after the spammers and advertisers. So far this has proven ineffective. Second way is to go after the idiots that actually buy stuff from spammers. This should be relatively easy. Send out spam and when the idiots bite you get their IP addresses and their names and probably their credit card info. Then send the police around to their homes to confiscate their computers, cancel their ISP connections, and ban them from using computers or the Internet forever. It will take about a year or two to track all the idiots down, but once the flow of money has been stopped the spam will stop.

Re:Secondary Effects (4, Interesting)

brass1 (30288) | about 8 years ago | (#15110305)

Actually none of the ISPs have any interest in reducing spam. They make to much money off of the spam operators and the sites that host the products provided by the spammers. Taking actual measures to reduce spam would cost the ISPs to much money.

Spammers steal to advertise a "product." They steal resources from anyone they need to advertise their product. You don't suppose these people run the other parts of the their business the same way? Legitimate IPSs don't enjoy hosting spammers in any fashion. This is why nearly all spamming done using cracked botnet zombies (baring a sizable chunk of mainsleaze spam). A quick check of the spam in my Junk folder indicates that most spammers host their websites on non-US systems, or are broken. On a nearly weekly basis I watch a small shared webhosting provider get hosed when his spamming customer lies to him, then screws him out of payment when the webhoster's provider gets involved. The vast majority of the ISPs in the civilized universe want spammers to loose IP connectivity. The largest of sites spend *millions* blocking spam both inbound and outbound.

Instead, they want to make money from legimate companies that want to get their messages to end users. This is a win win for the ISPs, but does nothing for end users.

It's a win for the users as well. The AOL mail client will be able to tell the user that the mail they're reading is indeed from Bank of America, and that other piece of mail is not from BoA. If AOL and Yahoo! know that BoA's mail all has goodmail tokens, and BoA mail shows up that doesn't have mail, it must therefore be a phish (seriously, go look at Goodmail's website [goodmailsystems.com] complete with the AOL mail client screen shots [goodmailsystems.com]). AOL's goodmail implementation is ONLY for transctional mail. That was the basis of Gingras' statement.

The handwaving about AOL charging to deliver mail is, of course, interesting. One would think that AOL is going to make out like bandits on all of the spam they'll be delivering now. That's simply not the case. The goodmail system is designed to support itself, not AOL or Yahoo!. Goodmail will be charging enough to keep themselves in business and keep the accreditation program working. I somehow doubt there's much left in the cost structure to kickback to AOL in any amount they can measure.

As discussed many times here the only way to defeat spam is to choke off the money flow to the people that use spam to advertise. There are two ways to stop the flow of money. First is to go after the spammers and advertisers. So far this has proven ineffective.

Is the strategy ineffective or is our execution of the strategy ineffective? We have weak anti-spam laws that do more to enable the practice than to actually put a stop to it. We have standards bodies that can't come up with effective reputation and sender authorization systems, leaving ISPs to invent their own solution (see goodmail). We have transit providers who don't have the guts to de-peer a rouge network who won't clean up what they're transiting.

Second way is to go after the idiots that actually buy stuff from spammers.

Wow. You don't actually think people *buy* real stuff from spammers? And that the spammers are really selling the stuff they're advertising? Ok, maybe the pharma spammers, but the rest of them? Not so much. These people are theves. They steal for a living.

Going back a week in my Junk box, I see pharma spam, penis pill spam, p0rn spam, mortgage spam, 419 spam, and pump-n-dump spam. Exactly what products are being sold in the spam I've gotten in the last week? Of the things in my list that even sound like products (drugs, penis pills, p0rn, and mortgages) none of those are products that need to be sold by cost shifted advertising. If you have to resort to these tactics to see these products, there's something wrong with the products. That's assuming the person doing to actual spamming is the person behind the products. That's generally not the case. The spammer is contractor who gets paid now matter how much product is bought.


There is no Final Ultimate Solution to the Spam Problem. There never will be. There are solutions. That's plural. Reputation systems are one piece. White listing and private relationships among email sites are another. A third is filtering at both the server and the client level. A forth is real laws that allow us to put the spammers and the botnet masters that enable them in a real "pound me in the ass" prison. We should be treating these people like drug kingpins and not like white collar criminals.

Re:Secondary Effects (1)

slashname3 (739398) | about 8 years ago | (#15110363)

Wow. You don't actually think people *buy* real stuff from spammers? And that the spammers are really selling the stuff they're advertising? Ok, maybe the pharma spammers, but the rest of them? Not so much. These people are theves. They steal for a living.

These people are paying money for something, if no one was responding and giving money to these people why would the keep spamming like they do? True, the idiots may not get anything for the money, but if they respond then they should be stopped from ever doing it again, banning them from the Internet and use of computers would fix that problem.

Someone somewhere is making money at spamming, if you interrupt the flow of money the spammers will move on to other schemes to defraud people of money.

The way to end phishing is to not use email. (1)

khasim (1285) | about 8 years ago | (#15110102)

Nothing you do on the receiving end will ever end phishing.

Yet it is very easy to kill 100% for almost every financial organization out there.

Just do not use email to communicate with your customers. That's it. Unless you're PayPal, the problem is solved.

The only reasons that banks continue to use email is because:
#1. It provides a cheap way for them to send ads to their customers.
#2. They don't bear the financial loss when customers lose money.

The only way to change #1 is to change the law on #2.

Today I received an email from Chase. I checked it. It was from Chase. It was for an employee who isn't here anymore. NOTHING I did seemed to unsubscribe him. I just kept getting messages back saying that that address did not receive email. Even clicking on the "unsubscribe" link resulted in that email. Every link pointed back to Chase.

The phishers are SMARTER than the people the banks hire to send email ads.

Until the law changes, the best you can do is try to individually educate every user out there NOT to click on any links or call any 800 numbers that claim they come from their bank via email. And educating millions of people just isn't cost effective.

Re:The way to end phishing is to not use email. (1)

fimbulvetr (598306) | about 8 years ago | (#15110142)

Are you 100% sure it was from chase? There has been a _tremendous_ amount of chase spam/phishing/spoofing going on lately. By lately I mean within the past 14 days.

Pretty damn sure. (2, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | about 8 years ago | (#15110267)

The unsubscribe link did go to chase.com and I confirmed that that site does belong to Chase.

The email is being send from "bigfootinteractive.com".

I use the raw ASCII message to get the link and when I past it in the browser, I get that reject message.

So, we have more examples of the bank making phishing EASIER by going through a 3rd party and linking chase.com to that 3rd parties email.

It's funny that Chase includes this bit on their email.

The Chase OnlineSM services mentioned above can be accessed through our site directly. The links here are included for your convenience. If you are suspicious of an e-mail, please feel free to use the URL that appears on the back of your credit card, or type chase.com directly into your browser.


Again, all the links go to chase.com and I've verified that in the raw ASCII text of the message, but the response emails come from bigfootinteractive.com......

Seriously, how easy does Chase want to make a phisher's life?

Hey, Chase! Use your own fucking email servers you morons!

If you're still wondering, let me know and I can post their response email for you to check yourself. I've replaced my domain with "DomainReplaced.com" and fucked up the id string, but other than that it is pure.

Re:Pretty damn sure. (1)

dnoyeb (547705) | about 8 years ago | (#15110412)

I could not agree more. I signed up with Vonage and I had to send them a nasty letter about how they send their users to a 3rd party to complete the registration. This is totally stupid. The 3rd party is not even referenced on Vonage's website and you have absolutely no way to know they are legitimate. Its mind boggling.

Re:Secondary Effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15110197)

not really.

what Gingergras does not tell you is that the system is meant to provide a guaranteed delivery of spam, to 100% verified emails, targeted audience... If they are central in handling mailings, think of all the stats they would be able to collect: what mailing lists are you on, what kind of spam do you tolerate, and what kind you unsubscribe from, where do you live (ZIP addy of your university/employer's mail server), etc. etc.

If you think the marketing depts would not pay $0.01 per mailing to such verified and datamined addies, you must be in denial.
After all, the US Post charges $0.37 per letter, but those of us in the US will tell you just how much junk/crap we get in our (postal)mailboxes.

Once again, any advertizer would pay $0.01 for a guaranteed delivery of their SPAM to an authentic address, esp. if they know your location and general interests.

All Goodmail is meant to do is to provide a stigma-free way to spam the hell out of you... What is stopping spamers now is the low success probability of their spam actually getting read by a person (considering the amound of expired hotmail.com et al. and fake johnny@REMOVETHISTOREPLYmailserver.com. They literally have to send out many millions of emails to make any kind of profit, meaning it is that much easier to pick out and blacklist them). Goomail is about to change all that...

Well, what is the upside of using Goodmail, you ask? What would one get in exchange for receiving a flood of "certified" via Goodmail?

Hell, they even paid off some brownnoser at the NYT to push their crap on the editorial page. What a bunch of aceholes

CAKE! (3, Informative)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 8 years ago | (#15109773)

CAKE [cakem.net]

But, I've not had much time to work on it since I've been employed. :-( And it's a much nicer, decentralized solution to this problem that has potentially much less weight and wider applicability than PGP.

Users won't know that (1)

Phantombrain (964010) | about 8 years ago | (#15109776)

My bet is that when this comes out, AOL users WILL think anything without they symbol is spam. I'm sure AOL isn't going to try to stop the idea either

Re:Users won't know that (3, Interesting)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | about 8 years ago | (#15109943)

It won't take long to realize that in reality anything WITH a symbol is spam. This will be even more true than it initially seems, I think. See, I highly doubt Chase wants to pay money to send me a plain text notice that my CC statement is available online. So I am imagining that when a company asks for an email address to send estatements or notices, a lot of them will reject AOL or Yahoo and request a different email address.

If many companies do this, then the only "certified" mail in the box really will be spam. And then I really will know--little blue ribbon=spam.

Phew, I thought I wasn't going to be able to tell it apart from my legitimate mail!

Re:Users won't know that (1)

muindaur (925372) | about 8 years ago | (#15110284)

I didn't get the impression that they would have to pay to send their e-mails. They would only pay to ensure they werent sent to the junk mail filter. If that isn't the case then it is a sad, sad day for e-mail. Yahoo Plus would lose too much business if that was the case since its paying users would not be able to use their e-mail addresses with companies that they want to deal with, and therefore complain and just not re-subscribe. Personaly I would switch to a new email provider.

Won't help a bit (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#15109777)

Remember the paper from Harward [harvard.edu] dealing with phishing and why it works?

People don't even notice security features. They don't notice HTTPS, they don't notice certificates, they don't even notice bogus URLs. Why should they notice a "verified" mail (or lack of this verification)?

And those who do already know how to deal with phishing mails, they are already capable of discriminating between fraudulent and legit mails.

Re:Won't help a bit (2, Insightful)

teutonic_leech (596265) | about 8 years ago | (#15109803)

This is a big waste of time and will easily be circumvented by spammers/fishers by 'faking' to be an authorized message. They'll just make it look very similar and the average senior citizen will happily give their personal data away.
May I point out that by combating spam one would 'implicitly' combat messages from data fishers? ;-)

Re:Won't help a bit (1)

Kelson (129150) | about 8 years ago | (#15110128)

They'll just make it look very similar

Well, assuming the encryption scheme is good enough, it should be hard to spoof the header tokens. And the graphic that indicates "certified" mail is supposed to appear in the mail client UI (yes, it requires client support), not in the viewing area. So they'd have to spoof the UI, which is trickier than spoofing the layout or sticking a logo in the message body.

All of which, of course, doesn't mean that people will actually pay any attention to it.

Re:Won't help a bit (1)

NichG (62224) | about 8 years ago | (#15110353)

Spoofing the UI has been done in other cases before, so I don't think it'll provide much of an obstacle. I've seen tons of banner ads that are made to look like an windows error message. I'm not sure how effective that sort of thing is, but I imagine it gets the same sorts of people who wouldn't notice strange URLs or who don't look to see whether the site they're interacting with is using encryption (thats a UI icon too, but most people probably don't even know what it means).

Re:Won't help a bit (1)

Itninja (937614) | about 8 years ago | (#15109808)

I agree.

I've got my users so spooked about phishing they are asking permission to even check their mail (not really, but pretty close).

"Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station."

Re:Won't help a bit (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#15109831)

Keep up the good work. A user too scared to click on a good attachment is by far better than one clicking any bad one coming his way.

Re:Won't help a bit (1)

dslbrian (318993) | about 8 years ago | (#15110186)

I've got my users so spooked about phishing they are asking permission to even check their mail (not really, but pretty close).

I would think one could easily wipe out phishing problems if the email client to browser connection was disabled (which really exists for no other reason than convenience). There is no reason a web link in an email HAS to open the link in a browser. If you force people to type the URL of their bank into a browser window instead of simply clicking on the link in an email they would always end up at the right site, not some man-in-the-middle portal.

Of course keylogging trojans and viruses are a different problem...

Re:Won't help a bit (2)

RaNdOm OuTpUt (928053) | about 8 years ago | (#15110308)

If you force people to type the URL of their bank into a browser window instead of simply clicking on the link in an email they would always end up at the right site, not some man-in-the-middle portal.

Or the message would be something like:

BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBL AHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBL AHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH BLAHBLAH
Go to: bankname.phishingsite.com/infograbber.html
BLAH BLAH BLAH


The user will just ^C ^V the URL.

Re:Won't help a bit (1)

mnmn (145599) | about 8 years ago | (#15109899)

Imagine a color flag. Its encrypted by an organization. When that flag arrives in the email, your user agent puts up a color flag or icon or whatever, big enough to be noticed, next to the email.

Now the organization is affiliated with the user agent makers like mozilla and microsoft.. so only encrypted emails from that organization are read and used. Companies etc pay a small fee to the organization, and give them a string (name) and ip (from and reply-to servers, the dns domain name). Their smtp gateway is this special organization which checks the dns claimed name, ip, name string etc to make sure the company is not fooling anyone, and adds the flag before sending it off. Companies can pay more for a 'higher' flag, so that emails from banks etc are more expensive to (attempt to) fake.

Doesnt work? Or how about this?

The company uses the special 'organization' as the smtp gateway. The organization checks the source IP against its member database (maybe the smtp requires auth) and strips the header of EVERYTHING except the subject, quoted name, and the user part of the from email address. It then rebuilds the whole header clean with the provided info and fires the email off. User agent checks if the email is from that special organization (can be just an IP check or smtp auth), and gives the email a different color in the list. Now each member company to the organization pays a minimal sum per email (1 cent?) to discourage mass mailers.

Where does the money go? If its a nonprofit, then a list of charities or telecom standards organizations etc.

Re:Won't help a bit (1)

Tackhead (54550) | about 8 years ago | (#15110013)

> Imagine a color flag. Its encrypted by an organization. When that flag arrives in the email, your user agent puts up a color flag or icon or whatever, big enough to be noticed, next to the email.

Imagine a compromised machine. When the user runs the email client and a (legitimate) "special" Subject: line has been fetched recently, the rootkit takes a screen grab and crops out the pixels where the flag is supposed to be (we go the extra mile because the user might have selected the color of the flag as part of a two-factor authentication scheme).

If, on the other hand, the rootkit recognizes the client has fetched a (phishy) "special" Subject: recently, the rootkit doesn't take a screen grab where a flag's supposed to be - it displays the previously-snagged flag.

Heck, if you're gonna write a man-in-the-middle attack like this, why not go the rest of the way -- and instead of mucking about with screen grabs and looking at recent SMTP traffic, just include a proxy server with the rootkit :)

Re:Won't help a bit (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | about 8 years ago | (#15110130)

Yea a rootkit could just interupt your going to a website like your bank and display false SSL info even. There is really nothing a rootkit can't do, why would you use it to interupt emails.

Re:Won't help a bit (1)

zcat_NZ (267672) | about 8 years ago | (#15110282)

This is what really bugs me about all the 'anti-keylogger' measures banks seem to be taking lately. It's ultimately pointless. At some point after the two-factor authentication or fancy ActiveX keypad where the buttons swap around randomly, or whatever other asinine steps you take (which are invariably hostile to visually impaired users, btw) you actually get to the point of doing a transaction.

At this point some rootkit swaps the actual amount for $500,000 or your available balance which you probably just looked up, and the actual payee for their own account number. When the confirmation page comes back they swap in the original details and wait for you to confirm it.

Amount of work required; slightly more than a keylogger, but not excessive. Slightly trickier to launder the money. In theory the software could look for signed updates on p2p, but otherwise you need to know an account number in advance and have a limited window before it gets closed.

Advantages; less of a trail, login details don't have to be sent anywhere and the bank never gets a chance to log the attacker's IP.

Re:Won't help a bit (1)

Kelson (129150) | about 8 years ago | (#15110138)

Imagine a compromised machine.

At that point they're screwed anyway. I think phishing someone whose box is already rootkitted falls under the category of Overkill.

Re:Won't help a bit (2, Interesting)

NoMercy (105420) | about 8 years ago | (#15109976)

With things like SPF at least, if someone recieves an email which comes from an un-authorised source, and my DNS records say that all my emails come from authorised sources, the email should get bounced before the user even sees it.

Though, I'll admit dispite having a SPF record in my DNS records, I don't have any filters setup on my email server to bounce unwanted emails, but hopfully if one scheme takes off over the others, it'll become included in the examples and default configuration options of many email servers.

Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15109790)

It's just a method for a company to profit from spam.

In other words, we'll still get spam (5, Insightful)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | about 8 years ago | (#15109794)

So this is just a paid for whitelist?

Hello, McFly?! If I'm expecting emails from my bank, I'll be putting them on my safelist anyway! Them and everyone in contacts, emails for forum notifications, newsletters that I want.

This doesn't seem to be doing anything other than making money for someone else.

Re:In other words, we'll still get spam (1)

Kelson (129150) | about 8 years ago | (#15110026)

If I'm expecting emails from my bank, I'll be putting them on my safelist anyway!

And when the cleverly-crafted phish comes in, the one that uses the right layout, the right wording, the right logos, a browser vulnerability to disguise the fact that it's going to the wrong website?

Most people here will probably recognize it by the fact that your bank wouldn't be asking for your SSN online, or you'll use your bookmark to visit the site instead of the fiendish link. But for the average Joe, this could help him tell the difference between the real mail from his bank and the phish that claims to be.

Re:In other words, we'll still get spam (1)

Nahor (41537) | about 8 years ago | (#15110065)

If I'm expecting emails from my bank, I'll be putting them on my safelist anyway!
When someone registers an account for Orb [orb.com], we send him an automatic email to welcome him. The "from" field contains a valid email address. I am one of the recipient to that email.

And I can tell you that everyday we receive dozens of automated emails asking us to click a link to verify that we are human beings and not a spam bot.
So good for you if you manually manage your safelist, but other people don't bother with it.

That said, the idea of certified email to fight spam to some level is not a bad idea, afterall, that what other people have been trying to do and they were welcomed (spf [openspf.org]). However, I'm not too hot on them charging for it because those who can't afford to pay may become second class citizens.

Re:In other words, we'll still get spam (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15110166)

There's a far more effective, far more efficient scheme against phishing and joe-jobs already in place: it's called SPF, it doesn't cost a cent, and it allows domains to list those hosts or domains allowed to send email allegedly from that domain. It helps cut worm traffic incredibly by catching forged email from your own domain sent from non-domain members, and by simply assuming that all mail from a domain should use the basic "only from A records or MX records" SPF rules, it provides a very powerful and cheap to implement filter rule.

Better yet, it acts on the first connection from the spammer and blocks the email before it wasts your time and bandwidth loading up the message. It was polluted by Microsoft trying to staple their own special form of "allow me to spam" signature, but SPF version 1 is still alive and kicking at http://www.openspf.org/ [openspf.org]

Re:In other words, we'll still get spam (1)

typical (886006) | about 8 years ago | (#15110352)

SPF sucks, for the many reasons that have already been debated on Slashdot.

I haven't looked at how Goodmail works -- the idea of commercializing mail simply brings too many problems with it to the table.

If you want something that works well, but isn't used by everyone, use PGP. Anything signed by anyone you trust can go right past your spam filter.

It might be possible to do a signing system akin to PGP (or even PGP itself, though it would be expensive) server-side on outgoing mail, if it's too much of a pain to deploy PGP.

But SPF is not a fix for spam. Sorry.

Re:In other words, we'll still get spam (1)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | about 8 years ago | (#15110250)

If I'm expecting emails from my bank, I'll be putting them on my safelist anyway!

Typical reply heard from someone that has given this 2 seconds of thought, and doesn't have to deal with sending legitimate email to real people on a day-to-day basis.

So you're just going to whitelist everyone you "want" to get email from, like your bank. Uh huh. And which of their thousand email addresses and dozen domains will you know to put in your whitelist? What if they out-source their email sending to a different company? (After all they are supposed to be your bank, not a super email sending service.)

I hope you have a damn smart whitelisting service and you remember to check your "suspect" queue frequently and weed out the legit attempts from unmanned addresses which are common for transactional emails, because most of our users can't.

Re:In other words, we'll still get spam (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | about 8 years ago | (#15110291)

I don't see what's so hard about this. Stupid, lazy people will be fooled one way or another no matter what.

Me? If I get some email out of the blue asking for my SSN, bank account number, or anything sort of information about me that that individual or business should already have, I just mark it spam and delete. If I'm expecting an email because I just signed up, changed some important details, whatever, I'll keep an eye out for it in case it gets sent to my spam folder.

Blue Frog (4, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 8 years ago | (#15109804)

Why not joining bluesecurity.com and report SPAM automatically? At 370K members, it's guaranteed to slow down the spammer's website (spam victims' slashdotting!) until they opt-out the complainers out of their lists.

They got even a Firefox extension for reporting spam with Yahoo, Hotmail and GMail.

Re:Blue Frog (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | about 8 years ago | (#15109886)

And you didn't post [url=https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinf o.php?id=1863&application=firefox]the link[/url]?! For shame!

Re:Blue Frog (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15109916)

Holy crap, I fail hard.

Here's the link without looking quite so retarded. [mozilla.org]

Firefox extension requires bluefrog anyway... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 8 years ago | (#15109965)

Little problem with the extension. It needs the bluefrog software downloaded to work (All the extension does is reporting the mails to bluefrog for analysis. The massive opt-out (slashdotting) is done with your computer via the bluefrog exe.

Re:Firefox extension requires bluefrog anyway... (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | about 8 years ago | (#15109985)

So what all is needed (assuming it's free, of course)?

Re:Firefox extension requires bluefrog anyway... (1)

jftitan (736933) | about 8 years ago | (#15110073)

Simple actually. just goto download the bluefrog application from bluesecurity.com, install it, setup a new account, and then open your mozilla browser. It will add the plugin automatically, but you'll have to register your email acconts one by one.

The members control panel at bluefrog is simple to use, adding your hotmail, yahoo (non beta), and gmail is cakewalk.

Other than that, thats the same procedure I did to get my bluefrog working for me. (woopie!)

Re:Blue Frog (1)

MyTwoCentsWorth (593731) | about 8 years ago | (#15110019)

Because it crashes Firefox when accessing GMail for a large percentage of users...

Happy Posting...

Re:Blue Frog (1)

jftitan (736933) | about 8 years ago | (#15110049)

I have noticed this as well. My firefox crashes at random, whenever I access my gmail account.

The note I take with the issue is, if I open a clean (new window) and go right into gmail, the blue frog will crash my firefox.

But if I have 2 or more tabs running, and I've had the window open for some time, then I never encounter an issue. I have been using blue frog for about a month now, and I seriously like it. Either it just makes me feel like I'm doing something (same feeling I get when (if) I recycle, or it is effectively reducing my spam. On a daily basis I used to receive around 150 spam emails in my gmail account, now I'm lucky if I receive 80. whether or not this is due to bluefrog, I dunno. But I feel better! and thats the whole point.

Re:Blue Frog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15110097)

Why not joining bluesecurity.com and report SPAM automatically?

Automatically? Surely if there existed a way of reporting spam automatically, then it would be trivial to apply the same technique to filter out spam automatically.

I can only imagine that bluesecurity.com is either not automatic, or reinforces flaws in existing algorithms, making false positives even more harmful.

half right.. we knew that though (1)

joshetc (955226) | about 8 years ago | (#15109819)

Everyone already knew this wasn't designed to reduce spam. I've got a hunch it isn't to give us something we already have though (whitelists). Maybe they are looking to maximize profits? That sounds about right. I guess most of you already knew that one too though..

Certified delivery of spam (4, Insightful)

kitzilla (266382) | about 8 years ago | (#15109845)

In other words, CertifiedMail is here to certify the delivery of spam by the "important" spammers who have the resources to pay for it.

Re:Certified delivery of spam (1)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | about 8 years ago | (#15110062)

Exactly. Except if they're big and have the money for it, they're called "bulk advertisers", "certified targeted marketing" or a whole lot of other jargon that might lead you to believe they really are in fact something other than spam.

Re:Certified delivery of spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15110123)

If you buy what is advertised, is it still spam?

Re:Certified delivery of spam (1)

Kelson (129150) | about 8 years ago | (#15110087)

CertifiedMail is here to certify the delivery of spam by the "important" spammers who have the resources to pay for it.

Those who can pay, yes, and also agree to abide [goodmailsystems.com] by responsible mailing list practices, use only opt-in lists (it doesn't require confirmed opt-in, unfortunately) with working unsubscribe procedures, eschew email harvesting and list sharing, use accurate headers, maintain a low level of complaints... and submit to a background check to show that they aren't spammers.

If they enforce their TOS, it'll be really difficult for spammers to get on their list, and harder for them to stay.

But it's OK to ignore all that, 'cause it doesn't make good copy. It's so much more satisfying to claim that this will only legitimize spam, because, y'know, it's being used by AOL, and AOL is evil.

Re:Certified delivery of spam (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | about 8 years ago | (#15110169)

Precisely. Most spammers call their lists 'opt-in'. Most lists of scraped email addresses sold by spammers are 'opt-in'. Their responsible practices mean nothing unless they mandate proper confirmed opt in.

There Will Be Spam (3, Insightful)

Gamzarme (799219) | about 8 years ago | (#15109849)

Oh yes, there will be spam..it seems to be here to stay.
Just like every other problem the 'bad guys' face when exploiting the rest of the population, they will find away around this too.

The news will be that if this practice does go into wide usage, spammers will turn toward draining large, anonymous bank accounts to fund their e-mail influxes.
This 'tax' will only create more problems than necessary.

My advice: leave what isn't broken alone and if you do have problems, then I suggest you install a good e-mail filter to pick out the spam that does get through.

My bank ?.... (2, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 8 years ago | (#15109863)

My bank or CC company, or just *any* bank/cc company ?

Re:My bank ?.... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 8 years ago | (#15109895)

My bank or CC company, or just *any* bank/cc company ?

Hell if I know! I'm still wondering why Citibank mailed me several times to tell me that they were going to cancel an account that I didn't open in the first place :P

Re:My bank ?.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15109900)

privacy concerns will keep them from identifying your specific bank, of course. so all banks will be able to mail you. wheee.

Re:My bank ?.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15110236)

Mr Kantanga of the 'Nigeria world bank' wishes to inform you that he has a $4 billion transfer needing to moved to your account.

Well im glad thats genuine - a with bank phisher phishing from a chinese bank computer im mean its a deal no ? - and it genuine email too whoopie.

Nothing to see here. (2, Insightful)

rholliday (754515) | about 8 years ago | (#15109909)

We all knew this wouldn't reduce spam. This is just a launching point for email blackmail, along the lines of BellSouth's bandwidth threats. The legal people at AOL are just trying to cover their butts so people don't have a leg to stand on when they complain that they don't get less spam. Totally stupid program.

Anyone detect hypocrisy? (5, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 8 years ago | (#15109912)

Goodmail's service is built around one single idea: easy to pitch to CEO's of large mail providers.

The providers get paid, and they get a good excuse for charging those fees. End of story.

If Goodmail's intentions were genuine, they wouldn't charge the "businesses" for every separate mail provider, but create globally valid certificates and then discuss with mail providers of accepting them.

However who would care to accept the certificates if he doesn't get the dough (the fees)? So there, we arrive at what Goodmail did.

Can you imagine paying up completely independently to every single ISP in the world so it can accept your SSL certificate? Yea, it's THAT bad...

We've heard this before... (2, Insightful)

CFrankBernard (605994) | about 8 years ago | (#15109921)

Not meant to reduce spam but to verify sender...SPF/Sender-ID/DomainKeys anyone?

Re:We've heard this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15110261)

Too bad no one in the legit email marketing community uses any of this stuff yet. Goodmail's solution is the first solution that is beginning to be adopted by legit email marketers.

"Certified" (2, Funny)

oGMo (379) | about 8 years ago | (#15109959)

Certified [reference.com], v.tr.
4. To declare to be in need of psychiatric treatment or confinement.

Yeah someone's certifiable here.

Yeah, this is what we've been saying all along (4, Interesting)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | about 8 years ago | (#15109977)

This really isn't news. This is just an acknowledgment of the deceit behind their earlier statements. They did a real crappy job of deceit though, as everyone saw this as something that wouldn't block spam. Instead I'll have spam with little blue ribbons that was paid for. And then I'll have spam that I can't tell apart from my normal mail because it wasn't paid for, but it made it through the spam filter (except really we all cann t311 1t apart fr0m 0ur normal mail for the 0b>i0us reasons).

Trust but verify. That it's crap. (5, Funny)

DysenteryInTheRanks (902824) | about 8 years ago | (#15109995)

The only real solution to stop from being misled by online con artists is to examine each link in a chain of Internet communication to ensure it is from a trustworthy, reliable source.

Email address, Web URL, refering party -- each should be bulletproof BEFORE you extend your trust. Otherwise, you might get scammed.

Take this article. We know it's reliable and trustworthy. How?

Well it was submitted by "anonymous reader," who has posted many a fine gem on this here site.

Then it was filtered by an "editor" named "ScuttleMonkey." How can you not trust a monkey? Monkeys rock!

Then, when you click on the link, you see you have been taken to "Spam Daily News," a bastion of journalistic integrity that makes the New York Times look like the New York Times before Judy Miller got fired.

Finally, the whole thing originated from a little place we like to call "Slashdot." I think the quality of this brand needs no elaboration.

So as you can see, it is not hard to recognize a secure, reliable, not-at-all-misleading-or-shady chain of Internet links. Happy surfing!

They presented to my organization (5, Interesting)

StanSmith (100966) | about 8 years ago | (#15110069)

I spent an hour beating them up on a number of issues, much to the embarrassment of my 'far too ready to sign anything' CTO.

Their VP kept harping on how "it will tell users they can trust your mail". My point that the real challenge was getting users NOT to trust things was not well received, to say the least. I also mercilessly attacked their constant assertion that their widget is "unspoofable", on the simple grounds that a similar widget in a similar location would be sufficient to fool many users.

My CTO has been asking me when we're going to implement Goodmail ever since. Khaaan!

Not to curb spam? Then this is BS (3, Interesting)

moochfish (822730) | about 8 years ago | (#15110111)

Wait. I don't get it. If the purpose is to ensure the sender really IS the sender, why do I have to pay up again?? If I'm the BankofSlashdot and I send emails to my customers from the email accountdetails@bankofslashdot.org, why is it they can't just add me to a registered senders list with my server's IP recorded? Why's that suddenly cost money?

If the purpose isn't to reduce spam, what does this new pay-for-being-recognized service offer that current ISPs don't already? Most ISPs will begin taking actions against your spam if you start spamming without contacting them anyway, and you are looking at legal trouble if you spam with forged headers or people who have opted out. Through whitelists and regulations, the framework is already in place for the legit spammers to spam. AOL already has whitelists. AOL already negotiates and limits email volume with mass email marketers. AOL already uses blacklists. And this whole thing isn't even mandatory!

So I'm really not sure what this pay system is supposed to do except earn AOL an extra dime at no added cost.

Re:Not to curb spam? Then this is BS (1)

BCW2 (168187) | about 8 years ago | (#15110218)

"So I'm really not sure what this pay system is supposed to do except earn AOL an extra dime at no added cost."

That is the whole point, to add cash to AOhell's sagging profits. Why do you think The boardroom is talking about splitting the company and sending AOhell back out on it's own?

As a tech I only remove more problems from Norton infected machines than I do AOL.

broken way to fix phishing too (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15110120)

say you're the bank of america, and you send your "transactional" mail with this GoodMail thing turned on and the little flag set. what about your other emails that you don't pay for? if any of your mail is sent uncertified, then phishers can just impersonate that "oh this is just one of those uncertified emails we the bank of america send you occasionally - click here to see our latest offers (requires SSN)".

so suddenly you have to pay for _all_ your mail just to maintain your credibility. and then what if you cross the spam-complaint level goodmail sets accidentally and they throw you off their system (as they are contractually obliged to do)? does that mean that nobody will ever trust your mails again? do you get to send out one last certified mail saying "okay from now on pay no attention to that little flag?"

it seems a really bad idea for a big company to place their credentials in trust with a third party and then let them charge them for every mail they send

I'll sort my own mail, thank you... (2, Insightful)

Ossifer (703813) | about 8 years ago | (#15110191)

I already sort my incoming email, by many categories. What purpose is there to having two classifications: "important" and "other"?

Banks? Financial institutions? (1)

russ1337 (938915) | about 8 years ago | (#15110192)

I sent a friend of mine an e-mail, and i got an automated response saying that I have to reply to it for the e-mail to get through, it would then add me to his trusted list, or otherwise it would be marked as spam

So how will the 'genuine' banks and other financial institutions / ebay / paypal, react to that e-mail? Most automated emails, have a 'do_not_reply@provider.com' as their reply address...?

So it is to stop phising (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about 8 years ago | (#15110203)

If it is about the verfing the sender, then it is a nobel goal. Even though banks do not do the sort of stupid things they used to do, the ability to spoff the URL location bar and universal font sets still allow the motivated phisher to fool the unwary customer.

So there is clearly a need for someone to help the average user discriminate between legitimate and nefarious email. The need could result in a significant market opportunity if an ISP developed appropriate technology and backed up the technology with a meaningful guarantee. People will pay for security, even shallow security.

I also believe this will reduce email that maight be strictly catagorized as spam. Not the broad definition of unsolicited email that has resulting in no meaningful agreement on how to deal with the problem, but email that has a misleading subject, spoofed headers, clearly obtuse text content meant to disguise the HTML rendered message, and links to shady websites. If the ISP allowed users to set up a list of safe addresses, provided the level of protection that the USPS service does for unsolicited mail, and provided a good customer crisis line, that would provide a big competitive advantage. If, however it is just charging spamers for email while the user dangles on the vine, that it is quite useless.

The USPS was suppsoed to do that! (3, Informative)

netringer (319831) | about 8 years ago | (#15110205)

The US Postal Service demoed just such a thing many, many years ago. They had an email encryption and delivery service to verify that the message was not altered. I suppose the problem in certifying the sender and receiver and proving delivery (to a person - not a mail spool) were technical issues they couldn't handle.

The difference of the USPS vs. Goodmail is that the USPS has official legal authority for such thing as mail tampering and proof of delivery.

I suppose if they were to offer the service now, Goodmail would buy a law to prohibit to USPS from competing against a private business as Sen. Santorum is trying to do with the weather service.

Re:The USPS was suppsoed to do that! (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 8 years ago | (#15110347)

The USPS has internal people that know lots about encryption and servers. Generally though they like partner with companies for their services (i.e. company A buys from company B who buy from the post office) so now worry there. My guess is that people won't pay for verified email.

uh, GPG (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15110235)

uh, isn't this what PGP/GPG are for?

So now all the bad guys have to do... (1)

EdMcMan (70171) | about 8 years ago | (#15110341)

is to fork over some money to AOL to phish. You'd think this would stop them, but since the mail is now "certified" or whatever you want to call it, people will believe it and probably increase their response proportions.

We already have a better way to do this (5, Interesting)

NightHwk1 (172799) | about 8 years ago | (#15110377)

GnuPG / PGP signing, with peer-based levels of trust. Or even better: get the public key direct from your bank when you first log in to your account. Added bonus, you have the option of turning on encrypted email.

This might bring up the question of encrypted spam, but your keyring would act as a whitelist. If some random person sent you an encrypted or signed message, then you would be presented with a message asking if it should be accepted.

All we need is a simplified way to do this for the general public. Too bad Thunderbird doesn't come with Enigmail preinstalled. We'd probably need something else for webmail. (FF extension?)
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