Email authentication lets you run your email campaign smoothly by ensuring that your email lands directly in the primary inbox of your recipients. It’s basically like your ID proof that tells the servers that you legit.
There are different techniques for claiming ownership and accountability over your email and server make up email authentication. An actual ID will get you past the bouncer at a bar, but so can a good fake. It also makes it a little harder for spammers to pose as you. Inbox providers are compelled to confirm your ID’s validity using authentication.
Email authentication distinguishes between messages sent by legitimate and fake senders by employing a variety of methods to confirm the sender’s identity. I frequently discuss how to guard against fraud, spoofing, phishing scams, and how to avoid the spam folder with my clients. Using email authentication for security is one of the best practices.
Various providers could need various configurations for authentication. Going without authentications can cause you to be labeled as a fraudulent sender even if you are not. Required specifics like which authentication protocols you require and what circumstances you need to configure can differ.
Establishing Brand Legacy
The least exciting aspect of sending email is email authentication. Your emails are more likely to end up in the spam folder without it, even if it’s not as sophisticated as creating templates or composing the entire email message. Initial setup and authentication are the first steps in improving email delivery.
Furthermore, mailbox providers like Gmail can more quickly identify phishers and fake emails with the proper email authentication in place, which is something we can all support.
How Does Email Authentication Work?
DNS records are used for email authentication to validate various aspects of the sender’s identity. Some records allow the receiving server to confirm the hosts that are permitted to send messages from a certain domain, while others use public-keys and electronic signatures to confirm the sender’s identity. You decide the policy and the record types you want to use.
The authentication procedure operates as follows :
1)A company creates a policy to control the authentication of email received from its domain name.
2) The sender of the email sets up its mail servers to carry out and uphold the policy.
3) The recipient’s server checks the message it receives for authenticity using the company’s authentication protocol.
4) The communication is accepted by the recipient’s server if it is authenticated. The message is handled in accordance with the established policy if authentication fails :
- Nevertheless, send it to the inbox.
- Send the message to the spam folder while allowing it to pass
- Reject the message by preventing its delivery.
Email Authentication Method
Any technical standard that enables domain-based email authentication is referred to as an email authentication technique. The components that are being validated can differ between methods, but they were all created as standards to enable Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), which is the primary protocol (apart from API) used to send emails. Although SMTP functions well, it lacks built-in security, which is why authentication procedures are available.
SPF and DKIM are the most extensively used email authentication methods, however DMARC and BIMI are starting to gain ground.
Senders Policy Framework (SPF)
Developed in the early 2000s, Sender Policy Framework (SPF) uses a DNS TXT record to specify which email sources are from legitimate email senders for the given domain and what to do with the messages that don’t come from those sources. SPF was the first real attempt at an email authentication protocol. It serves as a digital gatekeeper; if you aren’t cool enough to be on the list, you can end up in the spam bin or being thrown out.
A group of criteria and mechanisms make up an SPF record. The qualifiers inform us what to do with the mechanisms, which are ways of identifying email servers. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Despite the fact that SPF records are required, they do have some restrictions. These are a few :
- Per domain, only one legitimate SPF record is permitted. Receiving systems may become confused by many records.
- The implementation of SPF MUST set a maximum of 10 methods and modifiers that perform DNS lookups per SPF checker . (This does take into consideration the procedures for INCLUDE and REDIRECT.)
- As the record’s final entry, we advise using all, however-all is also acceptable.
- SPF recording chaining for whitelisting is supported.
The major issue with SPF authentication is that malicious actors can take advantage of it by faking the “From” address and using a forging domain in the Return Path address to make an email appear to be legitimate. Therefore, SPF is not the best method to prevent brand spoofing.
Given the obvious flaw in the framework, email authentication was quickly investigated.
Generally SPF works well in many situations, but there are some situations where it is not effective, like with the forward messages. In case of the forward messages the original sending domain remains the same, the email is sent by a server that isn’t specified in the sending domain’s SPF record. This results in messages being in the spam folder or the email will not be received by the recipient altogether.
Domain Key Identified Email (DKIM)
By comparing a public key and a private key to confirm the message was approved by the owner of the domain it was sent from, DKIM authentication is a method that enables recipients to check specific digital features of the email. The receiving mail server verifies the public key using the private key once it has been cryptographically signed.
You can specify individual message header fields and components to sign against in the signature. But the only part of the message that demands a signature is the “From” field.
DKIM is a great tool for ESPs to track a domain’s reputation because it is regarded as authoritative when communications are signed using it. Although we handle a lot of the DKIM labor-intensive tasks on your behalf as an ESP, there are some customisation choices.
Having your sending domain be a subdomain of your main root domain is what SendBuzz generally advises. Since both domains must be configured within your SendBuzz account, our customers have the choice of configuring the DKIM authority to either be that subdomain or the root.
For Instance, the root domain name is example.org but the domain that you’ve set is mg.example.org. Now our system will want to set the DKIM authority for both domains to example.org. Yet you can use our API and overrule that and give mg.exapmle.org its own value instead. This value can be modified at any time, but you should be aware that doing so might have an impact on your domain’s reputation.
Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC)
Before DMARC came into the scene, SPF and DKIM had nothing in common.
SPF and DKIM are easier to manage and are subject to better domain owner control thanks to Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC). Records in DMARC indicate whether the domain has implemented SPF and/or DKIM authentication. Give advice on how to deal with messages that don’t follow certain protocols. Direct the sender on how to provide feedback.
The “From:” field’s alignment with the domain’s SPF or DKIM policy-listed authentication procedures is the major focus of a DMARC policy. In other words, DMARC allows recipients to warn senders when a message fails SPF or DKIM while also ensuring recipients are aware of exactly what to do.
Inbox Before and After BIMI
Brand Indicator for Message Identification (BIMI) is a security technology that helps email marketers authenticate your email marketing and build trust. Consider BIMI as the cherry on top. You can request a BIMI record once you’ve cleared all the hurdles and set up your authentication criteria, but there is a catch. Your DMARC policy must be set to reject or quarantine in order for BIMI to function. BIMI is an efficient way to boost your open rate as it increases the customer rate. BIMI enables your logo to appear next to the user’s inbox for your contacts and their email services will know that you are an authentic person sending email.
We still advise starting with p=none when you implement DMARC because it doesn’t provide any protection against phishing or spoofing but is a fantastic method to evaluate DMARC configurations and reporting. As part of a bigger effort to implement stronger DMARC regulations, BIMI demands p=quarantine or p=reject.
Email security, reputation, and deliverability are all included in email authentication. Email authentication is important for message filtering as well as identity protection. Authentication gets you past the spam filters at the point when the ISPs are determining whether to let your email into the mailbox.
So, there’s only really one issue to consider: Is your identity worthless? Or is it worthwhile to authenticate.
Implementing and comprehending email authentication techniques involves a lot more, and security goes well beyond authentication. Are you looking for further email programme security measures? We concur. In fact, it was so intriguing that we collected our most devoted security and deliverability email gurus to create a thorough tutorial. Check it out to learn all there is to know about email.