From SPF to DKIM to DMARC: Email Security Strategy

From SPF to DKIM to DMARC: Email Security Strategy

In this article, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about SPF, DKIM, and, DMARC, and go through how you can protect your organisation’s emails thoroughly with a few simple steps.

Understanding SPF

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is the technology that’s used to authenticate the sender of an email.

With an SPF record, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can make sure that a mail server is authorised to send emails for a specific domain address. This stops email spoofing, by ensuring that the sender of an email is legitimate. It also is the reason why your outgoing emails aren’t marked as spam — the SPF record is proof that the email serves a legitimate purpose.

An SPF record is a DNS TXT that lists all of the servers that are allowed to send an email from a domain, meaning that any server that tries to spoof a domain without being allowed — which is known by checking the SPF record — will be flagged up and rejected by the SPF framework.

SPF essentially works as a record to ensure that authorised domains are sending emails, to make sure that you don’t receive any spoofed emails that could have nasty consequences for your organisation. It acts as the first line of defence and redirects any rejected emails to the spam bin.

Demystifying DKIM

DomainKeys Identified Mail is another authentication service that uses digital signatures to be able to verify that the source of an email is legitimate. However, DKIM specifically ensures that both the sent and received email are the same — ensuring that the email hasn’t been tampered with during transit.

Because of this, using DKIM by itself isn’t really secure enough, as it doesn’t prevent spoofing or phishing — it only ensures that there has been no change in signature from being sent to being received.

However, DKIM is an important tool to ensure that your organisation’s emails haven’t been hijacked and messed with during transit — as DKIM will confirm that the email received is the same as the one that has been sent off. DKIM signatures are invisible and are at a server level — the recipient’s system finds the public key of the sender to ensure that it matches the key on the email.

Mastering DMARC

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) is an email authentication, policy, and reporting protocol. Using SPF and DKIM as a foundation, DMARC complements the former two standards by helping update them to the needs of the modern world.

Specifically, DMARC is designed to satisfy the following —

  • Minimise false positives
  • Provide robust authentication reporting
  • Assert sender policy at receivers
  • Reduce successful phishing delivery
  • Work at Internet scale
  • Minimise complexity

By adding policies to further enhance security and increase the protection that your organisation has, DMARC can complement SPF and DKIM fully — ensuring that your organisation’s email security is at the highest level.

Building a Robust Email Security Strategy

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are all vital to ensuring that your organisation’s emails are safe and secure. By implementing all three of these tools into your organisation, you can easily safeguard your organisation’s collective inbox from any phishing or fraudulent spoofing attacks.

The first major step in ensuring your organisation has a robust email security strategy is finding a solution that encapsulates all three of these protocols, like the Mimecast DMARC analyser. By implementing a powerful tool that can take care of your organisation’s email security, you empower your organisation’s email solution and can live worry-free, knowing that you’re protected.

Mimecast DMARC Analyser is one of the top tools for this, as it has a great number of additional features that will even further help your organisation —

  • Friendly aggregate reports and charts for faster analysis and DMARC policy prevention.
  • Forensic reports to help track down malicious email sources.
  • Quick DNS Updates within the application.
  • Unlimited users and domains.
  • Daily and weekly reports.
  • Enhanced security with 2FA.
  • Email alerts for when a DNS record changes.
  • Managed service options for further DMARC enforcement.

By implementing a powerful tool into your business, you ensure that you’re prepared to face whatever — and that you’re covered in the long run against any phishing or spoofing attacks that could be a hassle for your organisation.

Another important part of email security is creating a security-conscious culture within your organisation. While on the one hand, staying protected on the server level is vital, it’s also incredibly important to ensure that your organisation is protected against any bad faith actors on the other hand.

Important, everyday things like using secure networks, 2FA, good password hygiene, and anything else to ensure that your email accounts are secure are just as vital as the technical side of security — and so neglecting it could be as catastrophic as failing to implement any of the three protocols above.

How We Can Help

Email security is a vital part of the modern world. With emails being so important to any organisation, ensuring that your email security is at a high level is vital. This is why SPF, DKIM, and DMARC exist — as a standard to ensure that everyone has access to the best security for emails available.

If you’re looking to get started with DMARC and don’t know where to start, get in touch with us today. Our experts will be able to support you and guide you through the entire process of setting up email security within your organisation.

Contact us now and see how we can help.