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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

New Email Authentication System Seeks to Cut Down on Online Scams

15 major technology and financial companies have developed a defense against fake e-mails.

A group of giant tech companies including Facebook, Google and Microsoft have jointly designed a new authentication system to combat the e-mail scams known as phishing.

More than a dozen major technology and financial companies joined forces to create a new system for email authentication. The initiative, known as DMARC--Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance--builds upon existing techniques for combating spams. It is designed to to verify the sources of emails. By asking email senders that provide email services, DMARC authenticates the emails. With DMARC, companies can ensure that the email they send is recognized by mail providers.

Email scams appear as if they are from a legitimate bank, retailer or other business. When customers receive emails that appear to come from the legitimate organization, they may click on the link from the emails that takes them to a fake website resembling the real one. Once there, customers might give away vital personal information which the group behind the scam can use for fraud.

In addition to email authentication, companies can receive alerts from email providers when their domain is used in a fake email. With DMARC, email providers can reject messages that try to spoof the senders' addresses.

Google was the first of the tech giants to use the new service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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