The TES (Trusted Email Services) project is an open, non-commercial industry effort to raise awareness around current email security threats and promote the deployment of technologies to address them, particularly cryptographic techniques to secure the submission, transport and storage of E-mail messages over the Internet using the DNS root as the trust anchor.

The project specifically targets, as a primary audience, the ISPs, telecom and hosting companies in each country, organizing a series of round-table meetings where product owners and technical experts responsible for E-mail can take part in a meaningful conversation; ideally, these companies are best suited to build the critical mass that would prompt general adoption of any new practice.

The project was initiated in Autumn 2015 by Open-Xchange, the maker of Dovecot, OX App Suite and PowerDNS, with the participation of other E-mail, DNS and security vendors, such as Halon and VadeSecure. However, no product placement or sales pitch is allowed in TES, and meetings only focus on presenting the issues and discussing relevant technologies and best practices. Before discussion is opened to all participants, introductory presentations are offered by technical experts from the supporting organizations and companies (e.g. Jakob Schlyter, one of the authors of DANE TLSA, presented at the Stockholm event).

The TES project wants to provide a firm specification of comprehensive secure practices that ISPs collectively confirm to follow, including transport level security, end-to-end message encryption between final users, and secure mailbox storage. In addition, the initiative could maintain a live TES registry through which the MTAs of participating ISPs could know whether the destination MTA belonged to another TES member, and in that case refuse as bogus any request for an insecure delivery.

In its early stage, the project focuses on raising awareness and building capacity, providing reference information (online checking tools are already operational and a public website is currently under development), gathering people in online and offline discussions (including a Facebook group and a mailing list, featuring people from several major ISPs from Europe and outside), and following up individually to get companies to implement in a first step the deployment of DNSSEC and DANE to secure the MTA-to-MTA transmission of messages.

Several TES meetings already took place in various European countries, while more are under way: keep an eye over our TES meetings calendar. As the project continues to develop, it would like to involve more companies and more countries, and trade experiences and explore possible synergies with other efforts, to further increase community attention and participation in the adoption of secure E-mail technologies.