The Weekly HELO — April 4, 2011

Posted by Melinda Plemel on

This week: Yahoo! maps no phish, Google makes an incremental improvement, the United States falls behind, and a new red light district that nobody wants to visit. Also: was that a rude gesture, or just deleting spam?

Welcome to the ninth edition of Return Path’s new feature, The Weekly HELO! Each week, Melinda Plemel synopsizes some of the most interesting current happenings in email technology and messaging abuse.

Phish Be Gone

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last several years, you know that phishing is a huge industry issue. Millions of dollars are lost each year due to these types of scams. There have been huge strides in the email industry to find ways to stop phishing attempts, and they’re finally starting to get implemented. First, authentication is needed to identify legitimate mailers. Our friend Carlo Catajan recently announced the next step toward the winning the phish phight by introducing Yahoo! Mail Anti-Phishing Platform (YMAP), “which is focused on further reinforcing the trust and security of the Yahoo! Mail experience using email authentication technologies.”

Yahoo is teaming up with a few industry leaders on this effort, including the new Return Path product Domain Assurance — only the latest of the many ways we’re working with Yahoo.

It’s really a village, people. It’s going to take all of us to help stop this crime.

One More Datum

Just a few days too early to be an April Fools’ joke, Google launched their version of the “like” button. The goal is to encourage “people to be more social, allowing users to vote on relevant searches and share predilection over Gchat, Gmail, Google Reader, Buzz and etc., and soon, Twitter.”

Of course Google is competing with Facebook here, but the bigger win could be that this might help Google improve their search results. Earlier this year, researcher Vivek Wadwha brought attention to Google’s increasingly spammy search results in a post for TechCrunch entitled Why we Desperately Need A New (And Better) Google — which may have been why Google changed its search algorithms last month to penalize spammy sites and content farms.

Not everyone thinks that change will help. The CEO for another search engine, Blekko, sees a few holes in the change. Personally I like that companies are putting power into the users’ hands — feedback loops help immensely with email spam, so it stands to reason that it’d help with search spam too. I can only be hopeful that the more +1’s will have an impact — I’m really starting to get tired of my searches for current information resulting in article written in 2004, and I’m not the only one.

Slow and Steady Isn’t Winning This Race

I’ve seen a few articles over the last few weeks discussing internet speed and how it’s not exactly hitting the fast lane in some countries. There is a great infographic that shows how fast the internet has moved to the people of the world over the last 15 years, and how fast the internet is in some countries.

The interesting thing is the US leads the world in broadband usage, Americans consuming more per month that most of Europe, Japan and South Korea (surprise), but we rank 30th for download speed. Countries that rank higher include Lativia and the Republic of Moldova. We still beat the UK, Canada, and Australia. Outrageous! Seriously, in the age of instant gratification, I’m surprised that anyone is putting up with this. Maybe you are still waiting for the graph to download?

XXX

After many years of wrangling, ICANN approved a new top level domain: .XXX. Yep, specifically for those in the adult entertainment industry. There have of course been some mixed feelings about adding a specific domain for this particular group. ICANN says that the addition of the domain will “add a measure of predictability and security to the wild world of Internet websites”, explaining that “Pornography is often used to lure Web surfers to dangerous or fraudulent sites. By regulating .xxx, ICANN hopes to make things better.” On the other hand there is still freedom of speech in many countries, and there’s a real concern that this will only take money from the porn industry without making anyone safer from anything, according to an article written by my friend Neil Schwartzman. Perhaps the oddest thing is that a group claiming to represent the adult entertainment industry protested against .XXX outside the ICANN meeting in San Francisco a few weeks ago. So, who actually wanted this?

Perhaps the answer is that there are already countries that are planning on banning the XXX domain, starting with India. No, that did not take long. Unless adoption becomes mandatory worldwide, I don’t see many in the industry dropping their .com domains for a .xxx anytime soon.

Gmail In Motion

Once again Google has moved email into the future. They announced (on April 1) the new and exciting Gmail Motion. I really can’t wait to stop typing, and actually jump around in front of my computer to make email happen. I especially like ‘lick the stamp’ — seems so natural to me.

However, a word of warning: turn off the camera when you are having lunch. I’ve already sent a couple emails that have landed me in meetings with HR.

See you next week.


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About Melinda Plemel

Melinda has been working at Return Path for 9 years and is currently the Senior Industry Advocate and is responsible for managing global partners that join Return Path's Data Exchange program and emerging markets. She is the key to helping and educating Return Path on mailbox providers, anti-spam, and email technology trends, as well as to educating receivers about everything Return Path has to offer.

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