[ietf-dkim] DKIM in the local news
dcrocker at bbiw.net
Fri Jul 27 07:01:07 PDT 2007
The Chicago Tribune used to be THE paper of record in Chicago. It had a
national reputation. THe quality of the enclosed article suggests it isn't
quite at the level it used to be. Still, it's nice to see the DKIM reference...
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [69ATTENDEES] IETF in the local news
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2007 08:53:17 -0500
From: Richard Barnes <richard.barnes at gmail.com>
To: 69attendees at ietf.org
This article was in the local paper this morning. Saw it in hard copy
on the IETF message board, but here's an electronic version. Copied
Their mission: A better Internet
A loose-knit group of 'netheads' gathers in Chicago to tackle some of
the problems vexing the Web
By Jon Van
Tribune staff reporter
July 27, 2007
Click here to find out more!
The guys who decide how the Internet should work (a few are women)
want you to know they don't run the Internet. Nobody does.
Despite its tremendous influence on Web technology, the Internet
Engineering Task Force goes to great lengths to be loosey-goosey,
almost hippylike. It is a purely voluntary group with no dues, no
board of directors and no headquarters.
"Our mission is to make the Internet work better," said Russell
Housley of Herndon, Va., one of some 1,200 engineers from the U.S. and
40 other countries who gathered in Chicago this week to swap ideas.
Earlier this year they met in Prague, Czech Republic, and later they
will meet in Vancouver.
The engineers make suggestions in the form of technical language
protocols with arcane acronyms like TCP and DKIM, and they have
developed a system for reviewing, approving and publishing standards.
But they have no power to enforce anything.
Ordinary people who use the Web would have no idea what these
engineers talk about -- or that they even exist.
But it was not difficult to spot the "netheads" as they gathered in
meeting rooms at Chicago's Palmer House Hilton or sat in the hotel's
coffee shops and eateries. Nearly every one is tapping away on a
laptop computer as he talks, eats or listens to others.
"Nothing beats two guys sitting in a bar drawing on a cocktail napkin
over a beer," said Housley.
One project the engineers have worked on is aimed at decreasing phony
e-mail messages asking you to provide your bank, PayPal or some other
legitimate-sounding outfit with personal financial information. This
form of spam, known as phishing, seeks to trick unsuspecting people by
appearing to come from their bank or other place where they do
A new task force standard attaches a signature to real communications
from an actual business, enabling computer servers to identify and
discard the phonies.
"If a server gets 70 e-mails from PayPal and only five have the real
signature, then only five go through and the other 65 don't," said
Barry Leiba, who has worked with other engineers for about 30 months
on the new standard.
"Some companies are starting to adopt the standard, and we hope that
within a year people will see fewer phishing spams," said Leiba. "The
consumer doesn't have to do anything. Users don't understand the
details and don't have answers. We don't want to involve them in
Leiba's day job is working as a senior technical staff member for
Internet messaging with IBM Research. Like most of the engineers who
work on Internet standards he does so with his company's blessing.
"I'm not here representing IBM," he said. "We are looking for what
will improve the Internet, not what promotes our company's interest.
Our companies all have a general interest in seeing the Internet work
While most of the volunteers are engineers, anyone can attend a
meeting of the task force, listen to what is said and make
suggestions, and while they need not be professional engineers, they
do have to have a deep understanding of technical issues and language.
"No one is going to ask to see your diploma," said Olaf Kolkman, chief
of NLnet Labs in Amsterdam. "Anyone can participate."
Kolkman said some people he has never met have made comments and
suggestions online that have been incorporated into standards. Some
engineers who attend the meetings have no affiliation with any
company. A few made big bucks during the dot-com boom, retired early
and participate in the task force as a hobby, said Housley.
The engineers discuss suggestions and reach what they call a "rough
consensus and running code," meaning that most go along with a
solution that works. All the work is published online as engineers
make comments and revisions.
Tasks on their plate include revising standards so that equipment
exploring Mars can send photos back to the Internet for researchers to
see immediately. Problem is, computers are used to things happening in
seconds or milliseconds and it takes about four minutes for a bit to
travel from here to Mars, so adjustments are in order.
There's also a push to improve Internet telephony so that calls aren't
dropped because computers lose track of the identity of the machines
they are communicating with.
The group, started with a meeting of 21 people in 1986, strives for a
type of anarchy that mirrors the Internet itself but does rely on a
certain amount of organized support.
The Internet Society, a not-for-profit organization based in Reston,
Va., provides logistical support for task force gatherings and
recruits sponsors. Cell phone-maker Motorola Inc. picked up much of
the tab for the Chicago meeting, and AT&T Inc. donated high-speed
lines to bolster the Palmer House Hilton's communications systems.
Bringing 1,200 Internet-obsessed engineers into a hotel for a week
creates a communications demand that would cause an ordinary system to
crash in an hour or two, said Steven Schroedl, founder of Verilan
Networks in Portland, Ore., who brought a crew of five and literally a
ton of equipment to beef up the hotel's wireless Internet.
They added switches to a dozen electrical closets in the hotel and
installed 30 access points for wireless Internet.
"If you brought this group into a hotel without doing this," said
Schroedl, "it would be a disaster. At this meeting, it doesn't matter
how nice the venue or whether the food is good. It could be Paris or
Prague, but if they can't get on the network, all they'll ever
remember is how bad it was."
- - -
Five Internet priorities
*Stop phishing spam
*Improve communication with Mars probes
*Optimize video transmission
*Adjust technology to allow basic functions (like e-mail) in Africa,
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