Hoax prompts new Senate e-mail system

A new e-mail validation system in the Senate will verify that all e-mails sent from Senate.gov addresses originate from legitimate — not "cloaked" — servers, the sergeant at arms announced Wednesday.

The system was implemented this week after news outlets received a series of false press releases saying that Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had died of cancer in their homes. 

Known as "sender policy framework" (SPF), the system “allows recipients’ e-mail systems to automatically check inbound messages to validate that they originated from a server authorized for the sender’s e-mail address,” according to an e-mail from the sergeant at arms to Senate administrators. 

The e-mail recommended that news media outlets use the SPF system to verify that e-mails received from Senate.gov addresses are legitimate. 

The four hoax e-mails — now under investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police — were modeled to look like blasts from the senators’ offices.