Email – Now that’s a complex subject.

Email is a complex process that relies greatly on, among other things, sender reputation, and valuable content, a degree of marketing talent, the right distribution platform and diligence to comply with ISP requirements such as authenticating your email messages. Email authentication is one-way to help your messages reach your target audience. It validates your email as being actually sent from your domain and IP address. When utilized, email authentication speeds up email identity for receiving ISP’s (i.e. AOL) as it streamlines the entire process automatically.

Email Authentication

Email authentication can be done by:

I. SPF (Sender Policy Framework) An authentication standard developed as an anti-spam measure using email validation by confirming sender IP addresses. Using SPF, the return-path of an email is verified as passed (allowed) or failed (Not allowed possible forgery). Additionally SPF defines if the initiating or source email IP address is authorized to send mail for a particular sender’s domain. With SPF records, the senders domain can be then viewed as a trusted source by the receiving ISP’s. Essentially SPF approves the IP address and domain address of the outbound MTA or message transfer agent. (MTA is in control of receiving incoming email and delivering this email to individual mailboxes (users).) The individual sets up an SPF record, your Email Service Provider should be able to assist you to set this up, if needed. SPF can allow easier detection of: • Email spoofing: A method of altering the header information of an email so that the true sender or originator of that email is concealed. • Spam*- in the cases when an email header (From Address and or/to address) is forged as the recipient’s own email address. • Viruses and Worms-such as joe-jobs, when a virus forges the email sender’s name, consequently, the forged name will receive all the bounces.

II. Sender ID Framework or just Sender ID An authentication protocol based on SPF technology is another type of email validation procedure. Unlike SPF, that confirms the displayed header of an email (i.e. Email From Address), Sender ID authenticates the source of an email message, by verifying the IP address of the sender against the assumed owner of the sending domain. Sender ID can allow easier detection of: • Spoofing: by making it more difficult to forge a senders IP address as it’s designed to authenticate the origin of each e-mail message as being sent from domain which it claims to come from based on the sender’s server IP address. • Phishing: email attempt to capture (for example) logon information, credit card, bank account number and so on, by impersonating a trusted entity to dupe the user into deluding such numbers. (i.e. An email from Ebay, which really is not from Ebay asking you to verify your password.)

III. DK/DKIM aka Domain Keys Identified Mail. An authentication process that allows the sender to digitally sign their emails, in order to validate their domain name and message content. Using a DKIM sender authentication scheme, the recipient of a message can confirm that a message actually originated with the sender’s domain and confirm that the message content has not been changed. This verification is cryptography based solution-using DomainKeys. (An authentication system that stores public key encryption to apply digital signatures to emails in DNS and digitally signs email sent by a domain). DK/DKIM records are generated by your email service provider. DK/DKIM deters: • Email fraud as it is more difficult to spoof a domain. • Substantial amounts of spam and phishing. Email authentication is a small part of a bigger picture. Managing email deliverability can be challenging and time consuming but critical to your success. Always follow Email Best Practices and drop by for the next Blog on Feedback loops.