Email Deliverability

Email authentication - Boost email deliverability & security

Noel
LAST UPDATED
July 8, 2024
READING TIME
7 min.

Email authentication stops cybercriminals in their tracks.

It combats a specific cybercrime called email spoofing.

Email authentication is also an essential part of your technical setup, which, if set up correctly, can significantly boost your deliverability.

Join us on a journey through cyberspace’s history as we explain what email authentication is and why it matters.

Why does email authentication matter? 🤷‍♂️

Email authentication protocols make the Internet a safer place.

But the benefits don’t stop there.

If you send emails from an authenticated sending domain, Internet and email service providers will reward you with better inbox placement.

Think about it…

Why would an email service provider send an email to the inbox if it fails authentication and potentially contains harmful content?

Well, they usually don’t.

Get your domain’s email authentication in order to enjoy superior deliverability of your emails.

Email authentication protocols

In the 2000s and early 2010s, spam was rampant.

It got so bad that big email senders like Google, Yahoo, and others decided they had to take action.

In the following years, three distinct email authentication protocols surfaced.

  • ➡️ SPF
  • ➡️ DKIM
  • ➡️ DMARC

This three-punch combo packs a big punch in combating cybercrime through email.

But there are more significant benefits:

Setting up all three will result in superior open rates.

In short, if you’re doing any kind of email marketing, you need these authentication protocols.

SPF - What servers can send from your domain?

Before email authentication, email spoofing was easy.

You could easily claim to be sending from a trusted domain when you really weren’t.

SPF, meaning Sender Policy Framework, combats this directly.

It allows you to specify which servers or IP addresses can send from your domain.

You can specify this by adding an SPF record to your domain’s DNS records.

With such a record in place, the receiving server can check the sending server against your SPF record.

If the sending server is not in your domain’s SPF record, authentication will fail.

DKIM - Preserve your emails’ content authenticity

While SPF ensures only authorized servers can send from your domain, DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) concerns itself with the emails’ content.

Through public and private cryptic keys, DKIM can detect when an email’s content has been tampered with during transit.

The public keys go into your domain’s DKIM record, while the private keys are only accessible by your email service provider.

If the receiving server finds that the email received isn’t the same as the email that was sent, authentication fails.

DMARC - What to do with emails that fail authentication?

DMARC is yet another email authentication protocol.

However, DMARC differs quite a bit from SPF and DKIM.

DMARC ( Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) enhances the functionality of SPF and DKIM. It does not offer any authentication method of its own.

Instead, your DMARC settings determine what to do with emails that fail SPF or DKIM authentication.

More specifically, it’s the policy (p) settings in the DMARC record that reign over unauthenticated emails.

DMARC’s three main policy settings are:

  • None (emails pass even when unauthenticated)
  • Quarantine (unauthenticated emails are sent to spam)
  • Reject (unauthenticated emails don’t get delivered)

Other email authentication protocols

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are the most important and well-known email authentication protocols.

But there are a couple of others you may want to know about:

  • ARC (Authenticated Received Chain): Provides a way to cryptographically verify the path an email took from the sending domain to the recipient.
  • BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification): Allows organizations to display their brand logos alongside authenticated emails. BIMI helps recipients visually recognize authenticated emails.

Email authentication for a better Internet and more opens ➕

Email authentication is a win-win-win.

Here’s why:

  • ➡️  It’s good for recipients as there’s less chance they’ll be victims of email cyber crimes.
  • ➡️  It’s great for you as it allows you to increase your open rates relatively easily.
  • ➡️  And it’s good for email service providers as it maintains email as a primary digital communication medium. If spam and cybercrime had gone unchecked, email might have lost its credibility, which would have hurt the business of email service providers.
Noel

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