eMail ID – eMail Made Better

February 28, 2011

I get non-personal emails because I want to get them.  I sign up for newsletters and coupons; I buy stuff and get the receipt and shipping data.  My inbox is full of stuff I signed up for.  When I find an email from a sender that interests me, I want it to be from that sender.  

This is my inbox this morning:

before inbox 

What do I care about?  After I read all this stuff, I see an email from the President, 50% off at eBay and PayPal approved me for something.  

Here’s what my inbox looks like with eMail ID:

inbox after

This is much faster to scan than a text inbox.  There’s an email from the President’s staff that I overlooked in the text inbox.  I overlooked the Apple one in the text version.  The Expedia logo caught my attention.  50% off at eBay is a real deal.  And the PayPal one I thought I wanted probably isn’t from PayPal.  I was able to learn all of this with a fast scan of the icons.  

That is eMail made better. That is eMail ID.


Phishing – The New Spying

February 19, 2011

You may remember reports of a spies infiltrating U.S. government computers using phishing email pretending to be from President Obama.  The U.S. is not alone in suffering from these high-tech espionage methods.

Reports out of Canada tell of another carefully crafted phishing scheme which compromised Canadian government computers.  The attack, which appeared to originate from China, involved the hackers posing as senior bureaucrats sending email to technical staffers.  The technical staffers were fooled into giving the fake officials key passwords, thereby allowing unauthorized network access.  At the same time, the bad guys sent other staffers emails with seemingly innocuous attachments; when opened the attachments launched a virus which hunts for specific classified documents and send them to the bad guys.

Like all phishing schemes, this one appealed to the recipients’ desires, fears and curiosity to get the recipients to act.  What can you do to protect yourself?  How can you know if an email is real?

real obama email

Know who.  No doubt.  Use eMail ID.

Phishing Up 14%

February 10, 2011

Today, IID released its Q4 2010 eCrime Trends Report.  According to IID, phishing increased in Q4 2010 increased 14% over Q4 2009.  Of particular note was the increase of phishing in the gaming sector – phishing increased 489%!  IID suggests that the high value of virtual gaming goods which are controlled by consumers makes the phishing of gamers particularly lucrative for cybercriminals.  This is IID’s breakdown of phishing attacks by target industry:

 Phishing by sector

The IID report discussed the launch of the “Stop. Think. Connect.” public awareness campaign of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) in partnership with the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG).  This campaign is intended to educate the public about online threats.  This RSA video exemplifies the core limitation  of “Stop. Think. Connect.”   As an email recipient, you have very limited information upon which to apply the “Think” step.  Is an email Christmas Card from the President too good to be true?  Government officials around the world, including those at the United States National Science Foundation’s Office of Cyberinfrastructure (the agency that issues grants for the development of state-of-the-art supercomputers and other high-end development) were fooled by a fake email pretending to be from the President.  On the other hand, experts at WOW Insider thought that a real email warning was fake and advised their subscribers to ignore a real security message.

Distinguishing real email from fake email is hard.  Unless you have the right tool.  Can you find the real email from the President?

real obama email

Know Who.  No Doubt.  Use eMail ID.

Goodmail – Goodbye

February 3, 2011

Goodmail Systems has announced that it is ceasing operations

Goodmail provides an email deliverability solution that also has an email marking component. Their business offers a three-part solution –

  • An accreditation service in which the email sender is certified by Goodmail using standards determined by Goodmail, with agreement by email services such as AOL and Yahoo! that accredited email will be delivered.
  • An authentication mechanism to verify that messages from Goodmail customers are legitimate. 
  • Inbox marking in which messages from Goodmail customers are identified with a Goodmail mark in the inbox.

The fundamental value provided by Goodmail is the first step in this process – certifying the sender and the associated guaranteed delivery.  As Laura Atkins observed in her Circle ID comment,

I think the real underlying problem was that most companies who are doing things well don’t need certification services.

Iconix has often been compared with Goodmail because both companies provide inbox marking.  However, Iconix is vastly different from Goodmail.  Iconix focuses on telling the recipient who sent the email – the email service itself makes the delivery decisions.  Our view is that if you subscribe to a sender’s mailing list, you want to find the legitimate emails they send.  Iconix marks the sender’s email with the sender’s own brand.  The value proposition is simple – recipients can instantly find and trust messages they care about, and senders benefit through increased engagement. 

Let’s compare the inbox experience.  In a Goodmail inbox, Barack Obama, Netflix and eBay would all get the same goodness mark.  Is that really very useful to consumers?  It is a good anti-phishing indicator, but little more.  Iconix also provides a good anti-phishing indicator.  However, with Iconix, the sender is identified with their logo, making it easy for you to find the sender’s email. 

  real obama email

Knowing a message is real is an important first step, but the real value – for the recipient and the sender – comes in instant identification of the sender via a logo.  You can scan the list, quickly find the messages you value, and react accordingly.  Everybody wins. 

Marking emails with the sender’s logo improves the inbox experience.  Know Who.  No Doubt.  eMail ID.