DRV Finds i OS Solution to E-Mail Authentication Dilemma
Published: January 27, 2009
by Alex Woodie
System i shops that have been thwarted from utilizing e-mail to its fullest extent due to the lack of support for e-mail authentication in IBM's i OS may want to check out a potential solution unveiled by System i software developer DRV Technologies last week. The company says it developed a way to support e-mail authentication from the System i, thereby reducing the chance a customer's Internet service provider (ISP) will return e-mail and the critical business correspondence it contains.
E-mail authentication is growing in popularity as a way to reduce the amount of spam and phishing attempts polluting the world's electronic byways. Several standards for e-mail authentication have been floated, including SenderID, Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys, and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). While they use different techniques, their general approaches are similar in that, by positively identifying the actual sender of the e-mail (by IP address), spammers and phishers will no longer be able to hide behind spoofed e-mail addresses, increasing transparency of the Internet and boosting the efficiency of other spam-fighting techniques, such as general filtering and blacklisting.
While solid numbers are hard to come by, it appears that ISPs are increasingly requiring their customers to utilize some form of e-mail authentication when utilizing their Internet connections and servers to send or forward e-mail. Depending on whom you talk to, spam accounts for anywhere from 80 to 95 percent of e-mail traffic, so there is a big incentive to fix the problem.
Unfortunately, the e-mail authentication approach creates problems for System i customers who are being thwarted when they look to e-mail as a legitimate way to reduce the cost of distributing reports to partners and customers, according to Richard Voss, CEO of DRV Technologies. "[They] run into a wall when their e-mail service provider requires e-mail authentication and their IBM System [i] does not support it," Voss said in a press release.
Now Voss says he has a solution to that problem with SpoolFlex version 4.3, a new release of the company's output management software for the System i (Power Systems, i5) server. The new release includes routines, written in RPG, to provide e-mail authentication when sending e-mail via an external ISP.
The e-mail authentication process in SpoolFlex sends an encrypted transmission to the ISP that includes the user name and password for a specific e-mail account. Once the ISP verifies that the user name and password are correct, the software continues the process of formatting and sending the e-mail, along with any attachments. No changes are required with the ISP, DRV says.
One of the critical aspects of SpoolFlex's support for e-mail authentication is the inclusion of a log for failed e-mails. The log holds e-mails, along with a reason for the rejection, which makes it easier to troubleshoot the problem and redistribute the e-mail.
Difficulty in using the IBM mail APIs--and most of all, a lack of transparency into failed e-mails--were the big reasons that DRV Technologies tackled the problem of e-mail authentication on the System i, Voss says.
"The initial API IBM supplied (SNDDST) was very simplistic, required shared folders so files name were limited to eight characters and a single attachment," Voss says via (unauthenticated) e-mail. "Later the QtmmSendMail was greatly improved, but also much more complex and you definitely have to be a programmer to use it. But neither of them have very easy troubleshooting methods to find out why an e-mail is not being sent."
SpoolFlex 4.3 is available now. Pricing starts at $2,600. For more information, visit www.drvtech.com.
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