Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites. And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.Judges 12:4--6, KJV
Internet mailing lists today suffer from the problem of their vulnerability to exploitation by those who seek to use the Internet's dynamics to their own selfish advantage. Marketers, spies, and other unscrupulous Internet users have been able to force their way into private communities, disrupting what they found, sometimes even completely killing it.
Others will attempt to assassinate the character of others by impersonating them, recognizing the ease of forging messages from others, and understanding that the number of people who can identify a forgery by reading Internet mail protocol headers is comparatively low.
The Shibboleth project and the software we have created addresses these problems and more. Our system was designed from the ground-up to provide the security and privacy that hasn't previously been possible for Internet mailing list communities and their users.
A paper describing the system is now available. The source code to the system itself is available by CVS. Visit the project web page to see current status.