In this era of technological development and the boons and banes that come with it, email authentication has gained much importance. Apart from protecting your business or organization, it can ensure its steady growth and success in the long run. In other words, email authentication plays a major role in the modern e-commerce market. Read on to know more about email authentication and its significance.
The constant rise in cyber crimes in the digital era is a cause of concern for all businesses and enterprises. Phishing, email spoofing, ransomware, and malware attacks occur daily because many organizations do not take email authentication seriously. Email authentication has two facets. On the one hand, it can protect your business from fraud and phishing. And on the other hand, it can help authenticate the emails from your business or organization and ensure that they safely and successfully land in the inboxes of the recipients.
What is Email Authentication?
Email authentication is the process that verifies the authenticity of an email received, ensuring that it is not fake or forged. At the very basic level, an email recipient server will want to verify whether the email received from your name is genuine and that it is not some malicious actor pretending to be you. Apart from SPF and DKIM authentications (which are discussed in the forthcoming paragraphs), recipient mail servers also investigate the reputation of the sender’s IP address. The recipient servers usually check:
● The reputation of the sender’s IP
● The content usually shared by the sender’s IP
● Previous interactions with recipients and their responses
The email is allowed into the intended recipient’s inbox after checking and marking the sender’s IP as legitimate. However, your email might not be allowed into the inbox despite having passed all these additional requirements. That is because it could lack a digital signature that proves your email is authentic.
Types of Email Authentication Methods
There are different ways a recipient server can authenticate an incoming email, of which three are the most effective. They all concern the TXT (instructions as text files) and DNS (Domain Name System) records. They are:
● Sender Policy Framework or SPF
● DomainKeys Identified Mail or DKIM, and
● Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC).
Below is an elaboration on these three authentication methods in short.
What is DKIM?
DKIM stands for ‘DomainKeys Identified Mail.’ It is a protocol designed to secure the entire process of sending and receiving emails between two servers. The recipient server can confirm whether an email is from an authentic and legitimate sender. Intruders and malicious actors often resort to sending fake or fraudulent emails from domains known to all and trusted. As spam and fraudulent campaigns spread quickly, everyone must set up DKIM to prevent such occurrences.
What is SPF?
Sender Policy Framework or SPF is a useful cybersecurity component for emails whereby the business or organization authorizes or legitimizes certain outbound or other server IPs to send emails on behalf of the organization or the domain. SPF settings need to be updated to get them authenticated. But if you have set up DKIM successfully, you might be able to get your email passed by DMARC with the default SPF settings too.
What is DMARC?
DMARC aims to prevent malicious actors, frauds, phishers, and spammers from posing as a trustworthy and well-known domain and sending fraudulent emails on their behalf.
DMARC generally gives the owner of the mail server a few options as to what might be done when it detects a fraudulent or spoofed email. The following actions are allowed:
● Keep the email as it is without opening or deleting it.
● Reject the email and block the IP address, or
● Quarantine the email by sending it to the spam or junk folder.
DMARC will approve an email as authentic if the IP address mentioned in the ‘From’ field is identical to that found in the SPF or the DKIM records.
Why is Email Authentication a Necessity for Organizations Today?
The significance of email authentication lies in the increased sophistication and the growing numbers of spoofing, phishing, and fraud that target emails. Threat actors keep targeting emails as their chosen channel for fraudulent activities.
Email servers and ISPs are bent on taking more effective countermeasures to prevent such mishaps, thus protecting their users from becoming victims of cybercrimes. Email authentication has also become important for successfully delivering emails to targeted customers.
As the policies adopted by different ISPs become more and more stringent, email senders will find it more and more difficult to land their emails in the inboxes of the targeted customers. Email authentication is of utmost importance as far as the success of your business or organization, in the long run, is concerned.
How to Authenticate Your Emails?
The email authentication process generally begins at the basic level of authenticating the domain of the business or the organization. The center will be required to allow its provider (ESP) to take its permission before sending emails on behalf of the organization.
The email authentication for an incoming email is generally done with the help of DNS records. Your organization has access to them already, and SPF, DKIM, and DMARC can be set up accordingly. These records typically inform the recipient email servers that the email being received by them is not only safe but also from a trustworthy organization or business.
Receiving unreliable or fraudulent emails is one of the major reasons why sender gets marked as spam or gets reported by the recipient. You might even get blocked, and your customers are not likely to return, at least not anytime soon. Thus, email authentication is quite important in the long run for any business organization. Email authentication methods like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protect the organization from any spoofing attempts by malicious actors and ensures the deliverability of its emails, thereby raising its reputation and trustworthiness and helping it succeed in its marketing campaigns.