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Email security never gets easier, does it? It seems like each new day businesses and individuals face a growing number of virus-infected emails and phishing scams they have to be on guard for in order to protect their systems and sensitive data. It can waste time, and it can sometimes be a bit of a gamble.

Are you willing to gamble your system’s security?

The good news is that you now have options for improved authentication protocols to adopt that can go a long way in protecting you from malicious emails spam. Even better, these improved protocols can protect you whether you’re the receiver or the sender.

Using a Sender Policy Framework (SPF)

The SPF record identifies the IP addresses that are accepted as senders of email, which helps protect both your domain’s reputation and the sending IP address from being misused. Whenever you send an email, it includes additional text that is not always visible (depending on your email settings) that contains “return address” information for that email with details concerning the IP addresses and servers used to send the email. This is known as the Domain Name System (DNS) record. This DNS record is called the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record. It's simply text that tells email servers which servers should be allowed to send emails pretending to come from your website.

If the domain in your email address does not match that of your primary DNS server or primary SMTP server, then you will see this type of warning. The most common time that you might see this warning is when you send email from a different network or location than where your domain name resides. Simply add a DNS record to your domain that contains the below information and publish it. This will guarantee that future emails arriving from your address have a source IP that exactly matches that of the recipients' SMTP server.

By applying a Sender Policy Framework (SFP) validation protocol you can detect and block email spoofing by checking the IP address the email claims against the IP address listed in the SPF record to see if they match up. If all looks good, then SPF authentication is approved and the message is delivered.

Using DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

DKIM adds a domain name identifier to the email that’s unique and separate from any other identifier. With DKIM, if someone tampers with the email while it’s in transit, the recipient can be sure that you didn’t send them something different than what you signed. If you’re concerned that information may be tampered with as your email is in transit, you can add an additional layer of security by using DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). You can easily adopt DKIM by adding a single DNS record and signing your existing emails with your own private key. Setting this up is easy and uses tools you may already have in place for your email service clients or email agents. A method for validating email messages and detecting email spoofing, the DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) protocol adds a cryptographic signature to email sent from an organization. This signature allows the receiver of the message to verify the identity of the sender and detect any changes made to either the message or header information.”

Using Domain-Based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC)

Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) is an additional layer of security authentication that requires both the SPF and DKIM to verify that an email was legitimately sent by the owner of the “Friendly-From” domain appearing in the recipient’s DNS report. For this to happen, both SPF and DKIM must pass, and at least one of them must be aligned. Using DMARC, organizations can detect when email is not authentic, when it’s being spoofed or if an unauthorized third party is using your domain. Experience increased mail delivery, improved inbox placement and greater protection of your brand.

For the SPF to align, the “From” domain and its “Return-Path” domain must match. For DKIM, the email’s “From” domain and DKIM d= must match.

DMARC can also be used to block malicious DKIM signatures, which would prevent spoofing of the sender's domain. DMARC can also be used to block malicious DKIM signatures, which would prevent spoofing of the sender's domain.

Why are authentication protocols so important?

Many businesses find their ability to send bulk emails is a great way to serve their customers. However, to ensure that any bulk email you provide is actually from the company it claims to be from, authentication protocols using DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Sender Policy Framework (SPF) allow the businesses to “sign” their messages to make sure they weren't altered or forged somewhere along their journey. Unfortunately, as phishing scams and spam emails continually on the rise, many businesses take an over-protective stance in regards to incoming email — particularly if it appears to be part of a mass mailing.

This can lead to important, valid emails being sent to spam folders where they will sit unread, or be rejected altogether. If email is your primary method of communication with customers, reputation can be everything. If you want to make sure that your customers know that their emails are reaching the right people and that they’re getting to their inboxes in one piece, you’re going to want to look into adopting SPF, DKIM and DMARC authentication for your emails.


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