Home Email 2.0

Email 2.0

The inital version of email has a lot of problems that can not be addressed by making modification to the way that email is trasnsmitted. A new architecture needs to be developed to replace our current email infrastructure.

- No garentee or acknowledgement of delivery.
- No accountability for who sent the message (spam)
- No garuntee on latency or feedback of delay
- No general security (email is sent as plain text)
- No standard messages for bounced or inactive accounts

Greg ->MailServer1@host.com <-- net --> [email protected] <---- Kathy

Today Greg sends a message addressed to [email protected]. Greg's mail server releases the message onto the internet. The message is sent back and forth between servers untill it reaches host2 or untill the servers give up. Host1 has no way of knowing if the message was delivered.

Proposed solution

Greg types his message and sends it to Host1. The host creates an envelope consisting of an encrypted key for the message, Greg's name and the address of Host1. This envelope is sent across the internet in a similar fashion to our current email system. If Host2 recieves the envelope it can connect back to Host1 and retrieve the message securly using the encrypted key provided in the envelope. If Host2 never recieves the envelope host1 can automatically resend he envelope.

This is better then the current system for several reasons

1- This makes it much harder to spam. Currently after a message is sent the sender can disapear on the internet. The new system requires that the mail server holds outgoing mail and waits for it to be retrieved. This provides a greater level of accountability. Additionally it means that each message is recieved from the correct host. Since the reciever connects to the sender omputer to retrieve the message it is no longer possible to forge email addresses.

2. Once a message is sent it can be canceled or corrected before it is retrieved. Everyone who has used email for more then one year has hit send and wished they could fix, correct or cancel their message. This new architecture would make it possible.

3. The new approach allows you to tell when a message has been successfully delivered. Recipt of the encrypted key shows that the message was recived.

4. It may be possible to make this email servers that supported the new transport but also have backward compatibility with pop and SMTP email clients. New client software could give additional features such as canceling a sent message or checking the status on any sent item.

5. Email communication would be more secure. This system would help prevent email forgery. It would also prevent a 'man in the middle' scenarios.

6. Because this new technology builds on existing systems it can be backward compatible with older clients. For example the envelope that is sent by Host1 can contain user readable instructions for reading the message:

  • You have recieved a message from: 'Greg' who is using Email2 for secure
    communication. It seems your server does not support email2. You can read this message by installing server software or by clicking this link:

Proposed steps:

Greg ->[email protected]
Greg sends his message to his own mail server addressed to another recipient

MailServer1 <--- net ---> MailServer 2
The mail server sends an envelope to MailSerever 2.

If Kathy @ MailServer2 would like to read the message a secure connection is made directly from MailServer2 and MailServer1 to retrieve the content of the message.

Points to consider

  1. The burdon on the sending mail server is proportional to it's volume of email. So if a spammer tries to send a million messages he needs to have the website to support a million people reading his message. If his DSL company cuts him off any unretrieved messages would get discarded.
  2. Attachments, and other large files would not 'clog' your inbox because they would only be retrieved as needed when the message was being retrieved.
  3. An email message can become a dynamic, possibly editable document. Once you hit send the document doesn't have to get stale.
  4. Mailing lists become easy to manage because you can determine what email addresses are no longer active.
This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.