MARF Working Group                                               J. Falk
Internet-Draft                                               Return Path
Updates: 5965 (if approved)                            M. Kucherawy, Ed.
Intended status: Standards Track                               Cloudmark
Expires: August 8, 2012                                 February 5, 2012


 Creation and Use of Email Feedback Reports: An Applicability Statement
                  for the Abuse Reporting Format (ARF)
                         draft-ietf-marf-as-06

Abstract

   RFC 5965 defines an extensible, machine-readable format intended for
   mail operators to report feedback about received email to other
   parties.  This document describes common methods for utilizing this
   format for abuse reporting.  Mailbox Providers of any size, mail
   sending entities, and end users can use these methods as a basis to
   create procedures that best suit them.

Status of this Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at http://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on August 8, 2012.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2012 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must



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   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.


1.  Introduction

   The Abuse Reporting Format (ARF) was initially developed for two very
   specific use cases.  Initially, it was intended to be used for
   reporting feedback between large email operators, or from large email
   operators to end user network access operators, any of whom could be
   presumed to have automated abuse-handling systems.  Secondarily, it
   is used by those same large mail operators to send those same reports
   to other entities, including those involved in sending bulk email for
   commercial purposes.  In either case, the reports would be triggered
   by direct end user action such as clicking on a "report spam" button
   in their email client.

   Though other uses for the format defined in [RFC5965] have been
   discussed (and may be documented similarly in the future), abuse
   remains the primary application.

   The purpose for reporting abusive messages is to stop recurrences.
   The methods described in this document focus on automating abuse
   reporting as much as practical, so as to minimize the work of a
   site's abuse team.  There are further reasons why abuse feedback
   generation is worthwhile, such as instruction of mail filters or
   reputation trackers, or to initiate investigations of particularly
   egregious abuses.  These other applications are not discussed in this
   memo.

   Further introduction to this topic may be found in [RFC6449].


2.  Definitions

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
   document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119], and are
   intended to replace the Requirement Levels described in Section 3.3
   of [RFC2026].

   Some of the terminology used in this document is taken from
   [RFC5598].

   "Mailbox Provider" refers to an organization that accepts, stores,
   and offers access to [RFC5322] messages ("email messages") for end
   users.  Such an organization has typically implemented SMTP



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   ([RFC5321]), and might provide access to messages through IMAP
   ([RFC3501]), POP ([RFC1939]), a proprietary interface designed for
   HTTP ([RFC2616]), or a proprietary protocol.


3.  Applicability Statement

   [RFC Editor: please remove this section prior to publication.]

   NOTE TO IESG: This document is part of the experiment to reintroduce
   Applicability Statements, as defined in Section 3.2 of [RFC2026], to
   the Applications Area.


4.  Discussion

   [RFC Editor: please remove this section prior to publication.]

   This document is being discussed within the IETF MARF Working Group,
   on the marf@ietf.org mailing list.


5.  Solicited and Unsolicited Reports

   The original application of [RFC5965], and still by far the most
   common, is when two mail systems make a private agreement to exchange
   abuse reports, usually reports due to recipients manually reporting
   messages as spam.  We refer to these as solicited reports.

   Other uses for ARF involve reports sent between parties that don't
   know each other.  These unsolicited reports are sent without prior
   arrangement between the parties as to the context and meaning of the
   reports, so the constraints on how these unsolicited reports need to
   be structured such that the reports generated are likely to be useful
   to the recipient, to what address(es) they can usefully be sent, what
   issues the can be used to report, and how they can be handled by the
   receiver of the report are very different.


6.  Creating and Sending Complaint-Based Solicited Reports

   [These numbered items are not intended to be in a paricular sequence.
   The numbers are here during document development to make it easier to
   idenify the items for discussion, and will be removed before
   publication.]






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   1.  A Mailbox Provider receives reports of abusive or unwanted mail
       from its users, most often by providing a "report spam" button
       (or similar nomenclature) in the MUA.  The method of transferring
       this message and any associated metadata from the MUA to the
       Mailbox Provider's ARF processing system is not defined by any
       standards document, but is discussed further in Section 3.2 of
       [RFC6449].  Policy concerns related to the collection of this
       data are discussed in Section 3.4 of [RFC6449].
   2.  The Mailbox Provider SHOULD process the reports to improve its
       spam filtering systems.  The design of these systems is discussed
       in [RFC2505] and elsewhere.
   3.  The Mailbox Provider SHOULD send reports to relevant parties who
       have requested to receive such reports.  To implement the
       recommendations of this memo, the reports MUST be formatted per
       [RFC5965], and transmitted as an email message ([RFC5322]),
       typically using SMTP ([RFC5321]).  The process whereby such
       parties may request the reports is discussed in Section 3.5 of
       [RFC6449].
   4.  The reports SHOULD use "Feedback-Type: abuse", but MAY use other
       types as appropriate.  However, the Mailbox Provider generating
       the reports SHOULD NOT assume that the operator receiving the
       reports will treat different Feedback-Types differently.
   5.  The reports SHOULD include the following optional fields whenever
       practical: Original-Mail-From, Arrival-Date, Source-IP, Original-
       Rcpt-To.  Other optional fields MAY be included, as the
       implementer feels is appropriate.
   6.  Ongoing maintenance of an ARF processing system is discussed in
       Section 3.6 of [RFC6449].
   7.  Reports MAY be subjected to redaction of user-identifiable data
       as described in [I-D.IETF-MARF-REDACTION].


7.  Receiving and Processing Complaint-Based Solicited Reports

   [These numbered items are not intended to be in a paricular sequence.
   The numbers are here during document development to make it easier to
   idenify the items for discussion, and will be removed before
   publication.]

   1.  At the time this document is being written, for the use cases
       described here, mail operators need to proactively request a
       stream of ARF reports from Mailbox Providers.  Recommendations
       for preparing to make that request are discussed in Section 4.1
       of [RFC6449].
   2.  Mail operators MUST be prepared to receive reports formatted per
       [RFC5965] as email messages ([RFC5322]) over SMTP ([RFC5321]).
       These and other types of email messages that may be received are
       discussed in Section 4.2 of [RFC6449].



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   3.  Mail operators need to consider the idea of automating report
       processing.  Discussion of this can be found in Section 4.4 of
       [RFC6449].
   4.  An automated report processing system MUST accept all Feedback-
       Types defined in [RFC5965] or extensions to it, but implementers
       SHOULD NOT assume that Mailbox Providers will make use of any
       Feedback-Type other than "abuse".  Additional logic may be
       required to separate different types of abuse reports after
       receipt.
   5.  Implementers SHOULD NOT expect all Mailbox Providers to include
       the same optional fields.
   6.  Actions that mail operators might take upon receiving a report
       (or multiple reports) are discussed in Section 4.3 of [RFC6449].
   7.  Reports MAY be subjected to redaction of user-identifiable data
       as described in [I-D.IETF-MARF-REDACTION].  This is also
       discussed in Section 4.4 of [RFC6449].  Although the end user
       causing the report to be generated has been obscured, the report
       processor SHOULD attempt to correlate and prioritize reports that
       appear to have been caused by the same end user as it may be
       indicative of a problem worthy of increased attention.


8.  Generating and Handling Unsolicited Reports

   [These numbered items are not intended to be in a paricular sequence.
   The numbers are here during document development to make it easier to
   idenify the items for discussion, and will be removed before
   publication.]

   The following advice is offered for the case of reports that are not
   solicited:
   1.   Systems that generate unsolicited reports SHOULD ensure that the
        criteria used to decide what messages to report accurately
        identify messages that the reporting entity believes in good
        faith are abusive.  Such criteria might include direct complaint
        submissions from MUAs, reports triggered by mail sent to "spam
        trap" or "honeypot" addresses, reports of authentication
        failures, and virus reports.  (These applications might be
        described in future IETF documents.)  Systems SHOULD NOT report
        all mail sent from a particular sender merely because some of it
        is determined to be abusive.  Mechanical reports of mail that
        "looks like" spam, based solely on the results of inline content
        analysis tools, SHOULD NOT be sent since, because of their
        subjective nature, they are unlikely to provide a basis for the
        recipient to take action.
   2.   With respect to authentication failures, these could occur for
        legitimate reasons outside of the control of the author.  A
        report generator SHOULD be cautious to generate reports only in



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        those cases where doing so highlights a serious problem, such as
        an ADSP ([RFC5617]) failure for a high-value spam target.
   3.   MUAs SHOULD NOT generate abuse reports directly to entities
        found in the message or by queries to WHOIS or other heuristic
        means.  Rather, the MUA should signal, by some means, the
        mailbox provider to which it connects to generate such a report.
   4.   Report generators SHOULD send reports to recipients that are
        both responsible for the messages and are able to do something
        about them, and SHOULD NOT send reports to recipients that are
        uninvolved or only peripherally involved.  For example, they
        SHOULD NOT send reports to the operator of every Autonomous
        System in the path between the apparent originating system and
        the operator generating the report.
   5.   Deciding where to send an unsolicited report will typically rely
        on heuristics.  Abuse addresses in WHOIS ([RFC3912]) records of
        the IP address relaying the subject message and/or of the domain
        name found in the results of a PTR ("reverse lookup") query on
        that address are likely reasonable candidates, as is the
        abuse@domain role address (see [RFC2142]) of related domains.
        Unsolicited reports SHOULD NOT be sent to email addresses that
        are not intended to handle abuse rpeorts, including any personal
        or role address found in WHOIS records or on a web site that is
        not either explicitly described as an abuse contact or is of the
        form "abuse@domain".
   6.   A report generator MUST provide a way for a report recipient to
        request no further reports be sent to that address and MAY
        provide a way for recipients to change the address(es) to which
        reports about them are sent.
   7.   Where an abusive message is signed using a domain-level
        authentication technology such as DKIM ([RFC6376]) or SPF
        ([RFC4408]), the domain that has been verified by the
        authentication mechanism is likely a reasonable candidate for
        receiving feedback about the message.  However, this is not
        universally true, since sometimes the domain thus verified
        exists only to distinguish one stream of mail from another (see
        Section 2.5 of [RFC6377]), and cannot actually receive email.
   8.   Recipients of unsolicited ARF reports SHOULD, in general, handle
        them the same way as any other abuse reports.  However, they MAY
        take advantage of the standardized parts of the ARF format to
        automate processing.  Lacking knowledge about the sender of the
        report, they SHOULD separate valid from invalid reports by, for
        example, looking for references to IP ranges, domains, and
        mailboxes for which the recipient organization is responsible in
        the copy of the reported message, and by correlating multiple
        reports of similar messages to identify bulk senders.
   9.   Reports SHOULD use "Feedback-Type: abuse", but MAY use other
        types as appropriate.  However, the Mailbox Provider generating
        the reports SHOULD NOT assume that the operator receiving the



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        reports will treat different Feedback-Types differently.
   10.  Reports SHOULD include the following optional fields whenever
        practical: Original-Mail-From, Arrival-Date, Source-IP,
        Original-Rcpt-To.  Other optional fields MAY be included, as the
        implementer feels is appropriate.
   11.  Per Section 4.4 of [RFC6449], a network service provider MAY use
        ARF data for automated forwarding of feedabck messages to the
        originating customer.
   12.  Published abuse mailbox addresses SHOULD NOT reject messages not
        in the ARF format, as generation of ARF messages can
        occasionally be unavailable or not applicable.
   13.  Experience suggests use of ARF is advisable in most contexts.
        Automated recipient systems can handle abuse reports sent in ARF
        format at least as well as any other format such as plain text,
        with or without a copy of the message attached.  That holds even
        for systems that did not request ARF format reports, provided
        that reports are generated with use by recipients not using
        automated ARF parsing in mind.  Anyone sending unsolicited
        reports in ARF format can legitimately presume that recipients
        will only be able to access the human readable (first, text/
        plain) part of it, and SHOULD include all information needed
        also in this part.  Further, they SHOULD ensure that the report
        is readable when viewed as plain text, to give low-end ticketing
        systems as much assistance as possible.  Finally, they need to
        be aware that the report could be discarded or ignored due to
        failure to take these steps in the most extreme cases.
   14.  Although [RFC6449] suggests that replying to feedback is not
        useful, in the case of receipt of ARF reports where no feedback
        arrangement has been established, a reply might be desirable to
        indicate that the complaint will result in action, heading off
        more severe filtering from the report generator.  In addition,
        using an address that cannot receive replies precludes any
        requests for additional information, and increases the
        likelihood that further reports will be discarded or blocked.
        Thus, a report generator sending unsolicited reports SHOULD
        ensure that a reply to such a report can be received.  Where an
        unsolicited report results in the establishment of contact with
        a responsible and responsive party, this can be saved for future
        complaint handling and possible establishment of a formal
        (solicited) feedback arrangement.  See Section 3.5 of [RFC6449]
        for a discussion of establishment of feedback arrangements.
   15.  Unsolicited reports will have no meaning if sent to abuse
        reporting addresses belonging to the abusive parties themselves.
        Reports SHOULD NOT be sent to such addresses if they can be
        identified beforehand.
   16.  Handling of unsolicited reports has a significant cost to the
        receiver.  Senders of unsolicited reports, especially those
        sending large volumes of them automatically, need to be aware of



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        this and do all they reasonably can to avoid sending reports
        that cannot be used as a basis for action by the recipient,
        whether this is due to the report being sent about an incident
        that is not abuse-related, the report being sent to an email
        address that won't result in action, or the content or format of
        the report being hard for the recipient to read or use.


9.  Automatic Reports

   There are some cases where report generation is caused by automation
   rather than user request.  A specific example of this is reporting,
   using the ARF format (or extensions to it), of messages that fail
   specific authentication checks.  These additional considerations
   apply in those cases, but might not be meaningful in the above
   contexts.

9.1.  Avoiding Mail Loops

   If the message under evaluation by the Verifier is an ARF ([RFC5965])
   message, a report MUST NOT be generated.

9.2.  Envelope Sender Selection

   In the case of transmitted reports in the form of a new message
   (versus rejections during an SMTP ([RFC5321]) session), it is
   necessary to construct the message so as to avoid amplification
   attacks, deliberate or otherwise.  The envelope sender address of the
   report needs to be chosen so that these reports will not generate
   mail loops.

   Similar to Section 2 of [RFC3464], the envelope sender address of the
   report SHOULD be chosen to ensure that no feedback reports will be
   issued in response to the report itself.

   Therefore, when an SMTP transaction is used to send a report, the
   MAIL FROM command MUST either use the NULL return address, i.e.,
   "MAIL FROM:<>", or one that will pass SPF ([RFC4408]) MAIL FROM
   checks on receipt.  The HELO/EHLO command SHOULD also be selected so
   that it will pass SPF HELO checks.


10.  IANA Considerations

   [RFC Editor: please remove this section prior to publication.]

   This document has no IANA actions.




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11.  Security Considerations

11.1.  In Other Documents

   Implementers are strongly urged to review, at a minimum, the Security
   Considerations sections of [RFC5965] and [RFC6449].

11.2.  Forgeries

   Report generators that relay user complaints directly, rather than by
   reference to a stored message (e.g., IMAP or POP), could be duped
   into sending a complaint about a message that the complaining user
   never actually received, as an attack on the purported originator of
   the falsified message.  Report generators need to be resilient to
   such attack methods.

   Also, these reports may be forged as easily as ordinary Internet
   electronic mail.  User agents and automatic mail handling facilities
   (such as mail distribution list exploders) that wish to make
   automatic use of reports of any kind should take appropriate
   precautions to minimize the potential damage from denial-of-service
   attacks.

   Perhaps the simplest means of mitigating this threat is to assert
   that these reports should themselves be signed with something like
   DKIM.  On the other hand, if there is a problem with the DKIM
   infrastructure at the Verifier, signing DKIM failure reports may
   produce reports that aren't trusted or even accepted by their
   intended recipients.

11.3.  Amplification Attacks

   Failure to comply with the normative statements in Section 9.2 can
   lead to amplification denial-of-service attacks.  See that section
   for details.

11.4.  Automatic Generation

   ARF ([RFC5965]) reports have historically been generated individually
   as a result of some kind of human request, such as someone clicking a
   "Report Abuse" button in a mail reader.  In contrast, the mechanisms
   described in some extension documents (e.g.,
   [I-D.IETF-MARF-DKIM-REPORTING] and [I-D.IETF-MARF-SPF-REPORTING]) are
   focused around automated reporting.  This obviously implies the
   potential for much larger volumes or frequency of messages, and thus
   greater mail system load (both for report generators and report
   receivers).




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   Those mechanisms are primarily intended for use in generating reports
   to aid implementers of DKIM ([RFC6376]), ADSP ([RFC5617]), and SPF
   ([RFC4408]), and other related protocols during development and
   debugging.  They are not generally intended for prolonged forensic
   use, specifically because of these load concerns.  However, extended
   use is possible by ADMDs that want to keep a close watch for fraud or
   infrastructure problems.  It is important to consider the impact of
   doing so on both report generators and the requesting ADMDs.

   A sender requesting these reports can cause its mail servers to be
   overwhelmed if it sends out signed messages whose signatures fail to
   verify for some reason, provoking a large number of reports from
   report generators.  Similarly, a report generator could be
   overwhelmed by a large volume of messages requesting reports whose
   signatures fail to validate, as those now need to send reports back
   to the signer.

   Limiting the rate of generation of these messages may be appropriate
   but threatens to inhibit the distribution of important and possibly
   time-sensitive information.

   In general ARF feedback loop terms, it is often suggested that report
   generators only create these (or any) ARF reports after an out-of-
   band arrangement has been made between two parties.  These extension
   mechanisms then become ways to adjust parameters of an authorized
   abuse report feedback loop that is configured and activated by
   private agreement rather than starting to send them automatically
   based solely on data found in the messages, which may have unintended
   consequences.

11.5.  Reporting Multiple Incidents

   If it is known that a particular host generates abuse reports upon
   certain incidents, an attacker could forge a high volume of messages
   that will trigger such a report.  The recipient of the report could
   then be innundated with reports.  This could easily be extended to a
   distributed denial-of-service attack by finding a number of report-
   generating servers.

   The incident count referenced in ARF ([RFC5965]) provides a limited
   form of mitigation.  The host generating reports can elect to send
   reports only periodically, with each report representing a number of
   identical or nearly-identical incidents.  One might even do something
   inverse-exponentially, sending reports for each of the first ten
   incidents, then every tenth incident up to 100, then every 100th
   incident up to 1000, etc., until some period of relative quiet after
   which the limitation resets.




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   The use of this for "nearly-identical" incidents in particular causes
   a degradation in reporting quality, however.  If for example a large
   number of pieces of spam arrive from one attacker, a reporting agent
   could decide only to send a report about a fraction of those
   messages.  While this averts a flood of reports to a system
   administrator, the precise details of each incident are similarly not
   sent.

   Other rate limiting provisions might be considered, including
   detection of a temporary failure response from the report destination
   and thus halting report generation to that destination for some
   period, or simply imposing or negotiating a hard limit on the number
   of reports to be sent to a particular receiver in a given time frame.


12.  Acknowledgements

   The author and editor wish to thank Steve Atkins, John Levine, Shmuel
   Metz, and Alessandro Vesely for their contributions to this memo.

   All of the Best Practices referenced by this document are found in
   [RFC6449], written within the Collaboration Committee of the
   Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG).

   Finally, the original author wishes to thank the doctors and staff at
   the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for doing what they
   do.


13.  References

13.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC5321]  Klensin, J., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", RFC 5321,
              October 2008.

   [RFC5322]  Resnick, P., Ed., "Internet Message Format", RFC 5322,
              October 2008.

   [RFC5598]  Crocker, D., "Internet Mail Architecture", RFC 5598,
              July 2009.

   [RFC5965]  Shafranovich, Y., Levine, J., and M. Kucherawy, "An
              Extensible Format for Email Feedback Reports", RFC 5965,
              August 2010.



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13.2.  Informative References

   [I-D.IETF-MARF-DKIM-REPORTING]
              Kucherawy, M., "Extensions to DKIM for Failure Reporting",
              I-D draft-ietf-marf-dkim-reporting, January 2012.

   [I-D.IETF-MARF-REDACTION]
              Falk, JD. and M. Kucherawy, Ed., "Redaction of Potentially
              Sensitive Data from Mail Abuse Reports",
              I-D draft-ietf-marf-redaction, March 2011.

   [I-D.IETF-MARF-SPF-REPORTING]
              Kitterman, S., "SPF Authentication Failure Reporting using
              the Abuse Report Format",
              I-D draft-ietf-marf-spf-reporting, January 2012.

   [RFC1939]  Myers, J. and M. Rose, "Post Office Protocol - Version 3",
              STD 53, RFC 1939, May 1996.

   [RFC2026]  Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
              3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

   [RFC2142]  Crocker, D., "MAILBOX NAMES FOR COMMON SERVICES, ROLES AND
              FUNCTIONS", RFC 2142, May 1997.

   [RFC2505]  Lindberg, G., "Anti-Spam Recommendations for SMTP MTAs",
              BCP 30, RFC 2505, February 1999.

   [RFC2616]  Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H.,
              Masinter, L., Leach, P., and T. Berners-Lee, "Hypertext
              Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1", RFC 2616, June 1999.

   [RFC3464]  Moore, K. and G. Vaudreuil, "An Extensible Message Format
              for Delivery Status Notifications", RFC 3464,
              January 2003.

   [RFC3501]  Crispin, M., "INTERNET MESSAGE ACCESS PROTOCOL - VERSION
              4rev1", RFC 3501, March 2003.

   [RFC3912]  Daigle, L., "WHOIS Protocol Specification", RFC 3912,
              September 2004.

   [RFC4408]  Wong, M. and W. Schlitt, "Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
              for Authorizing Use of Domains in E-Mail, Version 1",
              RFC 4408, April 2006.

   [RFC5617]  Allman, E., Fenton, J., Delany, M., and J. Levine,
              "DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) Author Domain Signing



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              Practices (ADSP)", RFC 5617, August 2009.

   [RFC6376]  Crocker, D., Hansen, T., and M. Kucherawy, "DomainKeys
              Identified Mail (DKIM) Signatures", RFC 6376,
              September 2011.

   [RFC6377]  Kucherawy, M., "DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and
              Mailing Lists", BCP 167, RFC 6377, September 2011.

   [RFC6449]  Falk, J., "Complaint Feedback Loop Operational
              Recommendations", RFC 6449, November 2011.


Authors' Addresses

   J.D. Falk
   Return Path
   100 Mathilda Street, Suite 100
   Sunnyvale, CA  94089
   USA

   Email: ietf@cybernothing.org
   URI:   http://www.returnpath.net/


   M. Kucherawy (editor)
   Cloudmark
   128 King St., 2nd Floor
   San Francisco, CA  94107
   US

   Email: msk@cloudmark.com



















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