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Chapter 1. Introduction to Email Securit... > Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)

Internet email is driven by SMTP, which is one of the most venerable Internet standards. SMTP was first formally defined by Jon Postel in RFC 821, published in August 1982. It was not the first Internet messaging protocol. SMTP evolved from experience with earlier protocols, some based on FTP, for delivering electronic messages on the ARPANET. For some time after the ARPANET transitioned into the modern Internet, SMTP was a complement to Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) mail, which has since virtually disappeared. The legacy UUCP “bang path” addressing can still be found in SMTP, unfortunately only used for exploiting vulnerable systems.

The most recent specifications for SMTP and Extended SMTP (ESMTP) can be found in RFC 5321, published on October 2008. (In this book, we use the acronym SMTP in most cases, even though we are almost always referring to ESMTP. Where the distinction is important, we note it.)


  

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