In response, Kelly Martin of SecurityFocus makes the modest proposal that the backbone of our e-mail system, Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP), is fundamentally broken and should be scrapped. Designed to be used by a handful of engineers and geeks, SMTP was excellent at what it was designed for -- and is, indeed, the reason why e-mail has evolved into such a successful medium. But it wasn't designed for security or accountability, and patchwork attempts to make it so can't keep up with the threats.
To that end, Martin proposes developing a new e-mail system that incorporates a high level of security (encryption, compression, secure identities and public-private-key authentication), along with peer-to-peer instant messaging and videoconferencing. The system would be open, of course -- and there, Martin is realistic about the difficulty in getting the various commercial e-mailers to adopt it.
Similar proposals have been made before and have gone nowhere, in part because the existing e-mail system is so firmly entrenched. Yet the demand and the know-how is there. The open source community could rally resources and expertise just as it did to create Linux, and enterprises and commercial operators would certainly welcome a spam-free protocol. Perhaps what's needed is a spark of some kind, whether from a handful of determined developers, an innovative company, or a government body.
Source: The Register