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In a digital world where email security is more critical than ever, it is important to understand and implement DMARC, SPF and DKIM for your domain. These systems play a central role in protecting your email communications from scams like spoofing and phishing, while helping to maintain your domain's credibility. Let's explore what DMARC, SPF and DKIM are, their importance, and how you can implement them on your domain.

More information in the post

  • What are DMARC, SPF and DKIM and why should you have them?

  • Google and Yahoo's new requirements (2024)

  • Step-by-step: guide for implementation

  • Summary and next steps

What are DMARC, SPF and DKIM and why should you have them?

  1. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance): DMARC is an email validation system used to protect your domain from email fraud, especially spoofing and phishing. DMARC uses SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) to assess whether an incoming message is legitimate and what to do with messages that do not pass these checks. DMARC adds an additional check by comparing the sender's address (in the email header) with the SPF and DKIM records. If the email does not pass the DMARC check, the sender can specify what to do with the message (for example, send it to spam or block it completely) and can receive reports on this.
  2. SPF (Sender Policy Framework): SPF is an email authentication method used to prevent spoofing by verifying the sender's IP address. An SPF record is a TXT record in your domain's DNS settings that lists which IP addresses and servers are allowed to send email from your domain. When an incoming email message is received, the recipient's mail server compares the information in the SPF record with the sender's IP address to confirm that the message is from an authorized source.
  3. DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail): DKIM is another email authentication method that allows the sender to associate their domain name with an email through a digital signature. This signature is attached to the header of the email and is verified with a public key published in the sender's DNS records. DKIM helps ensure that the message content has not been tampered with during transmission and verifies the identity of the sender.

Using DMARC, SPF and DKIM together significantly improves your domain's email security and reduces the risk of email-related attacks such as phishing and email fraud. It is an important part of securing your domain and maintaining a good email reputation.

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New 2024 requirements from Google and Yahoo

In 2024, Google and Yahoo will introduce new requirements for email authentication and spam prevention to improve email security and user experience. These changes, which take effect in February 2024, affect all senders, especially those who send large volumes of email. Here are the key points:

  • Email authentication requirements: Google and Yahoo require senders to set up DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) email authentication and a basic DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) record. These measures aim to improve email deliverability, build trust and credibility, avoid spam filters and optimize the sender's reputation.
  • Switching to your own domain: Google recommends refraining from using addresses and instead transitioning to a domain you own. This ensures smooth authentication and compliance with evolving standards.
  • Keep spam complaints below thresholds: Both Google and Yahoo are introducing requirements for a spam rate limit. Senders should keep spam rates below a certain threshold to maintain a positive sender reputation.
  • One-click unsubscribe: Yahoo requires senders to support one-click unsubscribe, making it easy for users to unsubscribe from unwanted emails.

These requirements affect all senders, regardless of size, but have a more noticeable impact on deliverability for those who send large volumes of emails. If these new requirements are not met, Google and Yahoo may start blocking emails that do not meet their requirements, which could lead to long-term consequences for deliverability and customer engagement.

The aim of these changes is to improve email security, reduce spam and increase user confidence in email communication. It is important for businesses and organizations to follow these requirements to ensure effective communication and maintain a strong online presence.

Step by step: guide for implementation

Adding DMARC, SPF and DKIM to a domain's DNS records is a process that helps improve email security. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do this:

SPF (Sender Policy Framework)

  1. Create SPF record: The SPF record is a TXT record in your DNS that specifies which mail servers are allowed to send emails for your domain. To create an SPF record, you need to determine which mail servers you use.
  2. Example of an SPF post: A simple SPF record might look like this:
    v=spf1 ~all
    This means that emails from Google servers are allowed, and all other servers should be treated as suspicious.
  3. Adding the SPF record in DNS: Log in to your DNS provider's control panel and add the new TXT record with your SPF string.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)

  1. Create DKIM keys: To use DKIM, you must first create a key pair (a public and a private key). Many email providers offer a tool to generate these keys.
  2. Adding the DKIM record to DNS: The public key is added to DNS as a TXT record. The format of this record varies depending on your email provider, but it always contains a version of DKIM and the public key.
  3. Configure the email server: Make sure your email server or service (like Google Workspace or Office 365) is set to use the private key to sign outgoing emails.

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance)

  1. Create DMARC record: The DMARC record is also a TXT record in DNS. It uses SPF and DKIM to determine what should happen to emails that are not properly authenticated.
  2. Example of DMARC record: A simple DMARC record might look like this:
    v=DMARC1; p=none;
    This indicates that no specific action should be taken for emails that fail the DMARC check, but reports of such events should be sent to the specified email address.
  3. Add DMARC record in DNS: Add the DMARC record as a TXT record in your domain's DNS settings.

General tips

  • Verify the configuration: After adding these records, use tools like MXToolbox or similar to verify that they are correctly configured.
  • Be careful with the syntax: errors in DNS records can cause problems with email delivery.
  • Update as needed: If your email infrastructure changes, make sure to update your SPF, DKIM and DMARC records accordingly.

Note that the exact process may vary depending on your DNS provider and email service, so it's good to consult their specific documentation and guidelines.

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