Yahoo Upgrades Its E-Mail Service

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Yahoo's e-mail service will use the company's DomainKeys authentication technology starting Monday, almost a year after Yahoo first unveiled this antispam project.

"This is a really big milestone for us, because with this authentication solution in place, we're increasing protection from ID (identification) theft and phishing," said Terrell Karlsten, a Yahoo spokeswoman.

DomainKeys attempts to tackle a practice called spoofing, in which a spammer changes an e-mail message's header information to deceive recipients into believing the message was sent by a known and trusted personal acquaintance or legitimate business, such as a bank or credit card company.

How It Works

With spoofing, spammers try to increase the chances that recipients will open and reply to their e-mail messages. Very often, spammers' ultimate goal with spoofing is to trick recipients into revealing confidential information, such as social security numbers, bank account information, and passwords. These scams are often referred to as "phishing."

Yahoo's DomainKeys uses cryptography to let receiving e-mail systems validate that an incoming message originated from a user authorized to send e-mail for the domain stated in the header. The receiving e-mail system uses a public key to validate a private-key signature in the incoming message.

Other providers of Internet and e-mail services, such as Microsoft and America Online are also involved in individual and collaborative initiatives to combat spam. For example, EarthLink is announcing Monday that it will begin testing DomainKeys.

In-Box Storage Increased

In related Web mail news, Yahoo is announcing that it is increasing the in-box storage space for users of its free Web mail service from 100MB to 250MB, as a result of user feedback. This puts Yahoo on par with Microsoft's free Hotmail Web mail service.

However, both Yahoo and Microsoft still lag far from the 1GB Google is offering with its Gmail free Web mail service, which is still in testing phase and available only by invitation to a limited amount of users. It was Google's Gmail announcement in April that jolted Web mail providers to increase storage sizes almost across the board. Yahoo used to provide 4MB for its free Web mail users, while Microsoft provided 2MB, before they both increased their in-box storage in recent months.

Meanwhile, Yahoo also announced an increase in the maximum attachment size for its fee-based Web mail users to 20MB from 10MB. Users pay $19.99 per year for more features than are available to the free service users, including in-box storage of 2GB.

Other enhancements to Yahoo's Web mail service are:

  • An improvement to the feature that automatically completes a recipient's e-mail address while a user is typing it into the e-mail message's address field
  • Tools to make it easier for users switching to Yahoo's Web mail from another provider to transfer their contacts to the Yahoo address book, and to notify their contacts of their new e-mail address
  • A more prominent placement of buttons for searching both the Web and the user's e-mail in-box
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