Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


09:25 AM
Connect Directly

Microsoft Promises Open Email Security

Microsoft pulled its Sender ID email authentication protocol under its OSP program to promote development of the once-controversial spec

Microsoft is now offering its Sender ID email authentication specification under its Open Specification Promise (OSP) program, the company said today.

OSP is basically a guarantee from Microsoft that the technology is available to developers, ISPs, and users for free, without licensing restrictions and fees.

Richi Jennings, an analyst with Ferris Research, says this means Microsoft is confirming that it won't take action to protect its patents and other intellectual property associated with Sender ID, namely its Purported Responsible Address (PRA), which is patented. Concerns about PRA's licensing derailed its adoption as an IETF standard two years ago, although Sender ID remains an IETF RFC.

Sender ID is Microsoft's protocol for verifying that an email came from the Internet domain it says it came from. It checks the sending server's IP address to prevent the spread of malware, spam, and phishing emails.

But the protocol has met with some resistance by developers worried about licensing as well as technology problems. "Few developers chose to implement the extra features of Sender ID that distinguish it from SPF [Sender Policy Framework], most notably the PRA algorithm," Jennings explains. "This was because of a combination of [intellectual property] licensing worries and some concerns that PRA could generate more false positives than SPF alone."

Jennings says today's announcement is merely Microsoft's formalizing the OSP program. "[Microsoft] made similar promises back in 2004 -- it's just reiterating the promises today."

Microsoft has acknowledged concerns about its licensing terms. In a Q&A on its Website, it said putting Sender ID under the OSP umbrella will help "promote further industry interoperability among all commercial software solutions that use email authentication, including open source solutions, by making Sender ID more clearly available to the entire Internet ecosystem."

There are over 600 million users worldwide of Sender ID, according to Microsoft. Some 36 percent of all legitimate email sent worldwide is Sender ID-compliant, and around 5.5 million domains, according to the company, which says adoption of Sender ID by the Fortune 500 has jumped from 7 percent a year ago to over 23 percent today.

"Sender authentication technologies like Sender ID are important tools that help ensure email security, and by making Sender ID available under OSP, Microsoft is addressing the interoperability needs of heterogeneous email infrastructures," Eric Allman, chief science officer at Sendmail, said in a statement.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
  • Ferris Research Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
    44% of Security Threats Start in the Cloud
    Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/19/2020
    Zero-Factor Authentication: Owning Our Data
    Nick Selby, Chief Security Officer at Paxos Trust Company,  2/19/2020
    Firms Improve Threat Detection but Face Increasingly Disruptive Attacks
    Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/20/2020
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Current Issue
    6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
    This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
    Flash Poll
    How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
    How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
    The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
    An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. If an unauthenticated attacker makes a POST request to /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp or /isomorphic/IDACall with malformed XML data in the _transaction parameter, the server replies with a verbose error showing where the application resides (the a...
    PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
    An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. Unauthenticated exploitation of blind XXE can occur in the downloadWSDL feature by sending a POST request to /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp with a valid payload in the _transaction parameter.
    PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
    An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. The Remote Procedure Call (RPC) loadFile provided by the console functionality on the /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp (or /isomorphic/IDACall) URL is affected by unauthenticated Local File Inclusion via directory-traversal sequences in the elem XML ...
    PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
    An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. The Remote Procedure Call (RPC) saveFile provided by the console functionality on the /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp (or /isomorphic/IDACall) URL allows an unauthenticated attacker to overwrite files via vectors involving an XML comment and /.. pat...
    PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
    danfruehauf NetworkManager-ssh before 1.2.11 allows privilege escalation because extra options are mishandled.