In this era of sophisticated modern cyberattacks, how can you be sure that the email in your inbox is indeed from who it claims to be from? Can you trust the link or attachment within it? Avoiding this uncertainty by protecting against email spoofing and sender fraud is exactly what the SPF, DKIM and DMARC email authentication protocols are designed to do.

How Do SPF, DKIM & DMARC Prevent Email Spoofing?

Email Spoofing - a form of email fraud in which a malicious actor sends an email with a fraudulent “From” address - is a tactic frequently used in phishing attacks and other malicious email scams that lead to data theft, fraudulent wire transfers, significant, costly downtime and severe, lasting reputational harm. SPF, DKIM and DMARC are three protocols - or standards put in place for systems or devices to better communicate - used to prevent spoofing attacks by verifying sender identity and confirming the legitimacy of email communications.

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is an open standard that specifies a method for preventing sender address forgery - ensuring that the emails you send are actually coming from you. It enables providers and organizations to identify their domain’s legitimate mail sources and prevent unauthorized sources from sending fraudulent emails from their domain. 

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is a TXT record published in an organization’s Domain Name System (DNS) that provides a method for validating a domain name identity associated with a message through cryptographic authentication using public-key cryptography. In other words, DKIM uses keys to ensure that an email sender is indeed who they say they are, and that a message hasn’t been altered in transit. 

DMARC enables a sender to indicate that their messages are protected with SPF and/or DKIM, and applies clear instructions for the recipient to follow if an email does not pass SPF or DKIM authentication (reject, junk, etc.). An email passing both SPF and DKIM authentications indicates that the message is coming from an authorized server and that the header information has not been tampered with to falsify alignment. An email passing at least one of the two authentication protocols proves that the sender owns the DNS space of the “Friendly-From” - the name and address that indicate how the sender wants to be identified - and is therefore who they claim to be. 

In order to be truly effective in combating spoofing and sender fraud, SPF, DKIM and DMARC should be implemented as part of a comprehensive email security solution managed by an expert provider who understands how to implement them to their fullest as part of a defense-in-depth approach to protecting sensitive information and preventing email fraud.

Want to learn more about how to protect against spoofing and sender fraud with SPF, DKIM and DMARC? Get in Touch>>

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