2007 USENIX Annual Technical Conference
Pp. 281–294 of the Proceedings
Addressing Email Loss with SureMail: Measurement, Design, and Evaluation
Sharad Agarwal and Venkata N. Padmanabhan, Microsoft Research; Dilip A. Joseph, University of California, Berkeley
We consider the problem of silent email loss in the Internet, where
neither the sender nor the intended recipient is notified of the loss.
Our detailed measurement study over several months shows a silent
email loss rate of 0.71% to 1.02%. The silent loss of an important
email can impose a high cost on users. We further show that spam
filtering can be the significant cause of silent email loss, but not
the sole cause.
augments the existing SMTP-based email infrastructure with a notification
system to make intended recipients aware of email they are
missing. A notification is a short, fixed-format fingerprint
of an email, constructed so as to preserve sender and recipient
privacy, and prevent spoofing by spammers.
SureMail is designed to be usable immediately by users without
requiring the cooperation of their email providers, so it leaves the
existing email infrastructure (including anti-spam infrastructure)
untouched and does not require a PKI for email users. It places
minimal demands on users, by automating the
tasks of generating, retrieving, and verifying notifications. It
alerts users only when there is actual email loss. Our prototype implementation
demonstrates the effectiveness of SureMail in notifying recipients upon
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