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AOL Testing Anti-Spoofing Technology

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America Online is testing a new email technology to block spammers who forge email addresses to get past spam filters and blacklists, one that would eventually rely on Internet domain names instead of IP addresses to identify legitimate senders.

The IDG News Service reported Thursday that AOL is testing the new Sender Permitted From email protocol on its entire base of 33 million subscribers. The ISP giant tested SPF previously but ended the trial and then made changes based on comments from other ISPs.

The SPF protocol changes the Domain Name System to show which mail servers can send email from a specific Internet domain. AOL would use SPF to publish the IP addresses of mail servers it uses to send email. If more ISPs adopt the protocol, mail transfer agents would check SPF records to determine if the email's source is legitimate or forged.

SPF is the latest attempt by ISPs to use sender identification or verification to block junk email and bulk spammers. Yahoo! announced in late 2003 that it was developing a program called Domain Keys, which uses encryption to verify email senders.