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Understanding Email Security: SPF, DKIM, and DMARC
Running email marketing campaigns is one of the most efficient ways to promote your business digitally. Not only does it produce effective results, but it also improves B2C relationships resulting in a better overall experience for the clients and the conversion of leads into potential clients.
Considering the fact that email marketing yields a significant return on investment (ROI), it is often exploited by scammers. With more than 60% of the global organizations affected by fraudulent or malicious activities, email security has become a crucial security concern.
However, if you’re a business owner, there’s nothing to be worried about because you’re in luck. There are specific protocols in place to improve email security. Without any further ado, here’s a detailed insight into email security and how you could implement it.
Understanding the Basics of Email Security:
To help ensure your business is not affected by the fraudulent activities of the scammers, there are three security protocols that you could benefit from. We’ve listed them below for your understanding.
- Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
- DomainKeys Identified Mail (DIKM)
- Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)
SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, all three of them are security standards or protocols that are implemented to enhance the security of your business email. Not only does it reduce spams, but it also protects you against malicious phishing attempts.
Here’s a brief description of how they improve email security and how you could implement them.
Email Security – Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
It is essentially a security measure that detects forged sender addresses. In the current day scenario, spammers could send email messages disguised under your business’ online presence or under your brand name.
To help you understand this better, think of it this way, SPF prevents the forgery of sender addresses. SPF provides the receiving server with vital information on how reputable or trustworthy the source origin of your online brand is. Moreover, Sender Policy Network (SPF) allows the receiving server to determine that the mail sent out is actually sent from your business. However, keep in mind that SPF is used alongside DMARC.
How to Implement SPF?
Now that you understand how it works, here’s how you can implement it in your online business presence and improve the security of your emails.
To implement SPF, create a list of the IP addresses that you primarily use to send emails, whether they’re promotional marketing emails or one to one B2C emails.
After you’ve gathered a list of the IP addresses, continue with creating a list of the domains that you used to send emails from. Considering how businesses work, chances are you might have multiple domains. If there are any other domains that you own, add them to the list of domains as well.
Now that you’ve gathered a list of the IP addresses and Domains, create your SPF record. It authenticates by comparing the sender IP with the list of the IPs stored in the SPF record.
Afterward, publish your SPF record to DNS and check it using SPF check tools.
Email Security – DomainKeys Identified Mail (DIKM)
DomainKeys Identified Mail was implemented by Yahoo and Cisco. Similar to the SPF, it, too, is an email security protocol. The primary purpose of using the DKIM protocol is to authenticate the email messages being sent out and prevent spammers from spoofing emails from your domain.
It is essentially the process of signing outbound emails with a valid digital signature and then authenticating them at the receiving end. These signatures are also referred to as cryptographic keys.
The digital signatures are stored in a TXT record, published under your primary domain name system (DNS). Once a signed email is sent out, the receiving server verifies it by comparing its digital signature (cryptographic key) in the TXT record, stored in the DNS.
Keep in mind, DKIM is compatible with both SPF and DMARC and can be used with either to serve as an extra layer of security. Moreover, using DKIM in your emails enable your emails to appear more legitimate. Not only does it improve B2C communication, but it also retains your online reputation.
How to Implement DKIM?
- Implementing DKIM is relatively simple. Here’s how you can implement it.
- Create a list of all of your sending domains.
- Proceed to installing DKIM and configuring it on your email servers.
- Create a public and private key pair (cryptographic key), and publish the public key in a TXT record in your DNS.
- After you’ve published your public key, set up your email server to sign outbound emails, which can then be verified by the receiving server using your public key.
Email Security – Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)
DMARC is essentially an email security policy that improves the overall legitimacy of business emails. It is used as a marker or indicator of emails being secured via both DKIM and SPF protocols. With that being said, DMARC requires both the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) protocols set up.
With DMARC, the receiving server precisely knows what to do in case an email fails to pass SPF and DKIM authentication. Based on the instructions provided by business owners, it can either discard it or junk it.
How to Implement DMARC?
Implementing DMARC is the same as implementing DKIM and SPF. Here’s how you could implement it in 5 easy steps.
- Create a list of the domains.
- Add the identified domains in your DNS records.
- Generate a DMARC record for all of your domains.
- Continue to publish the DMARC records in your DNS.
- After you’ve added DMARC records, it can take up to 3 days to generate DMARC results. For each email you send, you will receive a Pass/Fail report.
With the widespread of email marketing, spammers have exploited emails as a means to spoof emails and trick people into believing something that isn’t essentially true. Moreover, they use emails as a means of sending phishing emails.
However, with email security protocols such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, it can be prevented since they serve as an additional layer of security.