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If you are on this page reading this blog, chances are that you have come across either one of the following prompts:

  • No SPF record found
  • SPF record is missing
  • No SPF record
  • SPF record not found
  • No SPF record published
  • Unable to find SPF record

The prompt simply signifies that your domain is not configured with SPF email authentication standard. An SPF record is a DNS TXT record that is published in your domain’s DNS to authenticate messages by checking them against the authorized IP addresses that are allowed to send emails on behalf of your domain, included in your SPF record. So naturally if your domain is not authenticated with SPF protocol you might come across a “No SPF record found” message.

What is Sender Policy Framework (SPF)?

SPF email authentication standard is a mechanism used to prevent spammers from forging emails. It uses DNS records to verify that the sending server is allowed to send emails from the domain name.  SPF, which stands for Sender Policy Framework, allows you to identify permitted senders of emails on your domain.

SPF is a “path-based” authentication system, implying that it is related to the path that the email takes from the original sending server to the receiving server. SPF not only allows organizations to authorize IP addresses to use its domain names when sending out emails, but also provides a way that a receiving email server can check that authorization.

Do I Need to Configure SPF?

You’ve probably been told that you need SPF (Sender Policy Framework) email authentication. But does a business really need it? And if so, are there any other benefits? That question is usually understood when the enterprise becomes a large e-mail exchanger for their organization. With SPF, you can track email behavior to detect fraudulent messages and protect your business from spam-related issues, spoofing and phishing attacks. SPF helps you achieve maximum deliverability and brand protection by verifying the identity of the senders.

How Does SPF Function?

  • SPF records are specially formatted Domain Name System (DNS) records published by domain administrators that define which mail servers are authorized to send mail on behalf of that domain.
  • With SPF configured for your domain, whenever an email is sent from your domain the recipient’s mail server looks up the specifications for the return-path domain in the
  • DNS. It subsequently tried to match the IP address of the sender to the authorized addresses defined in your SPF record.
  • According to the SPF policy specifications the receiving server then decides whether to deliver, reject or flag the email in case it fails authentication.

Breaking Down the Syntax of an SPF Record

Let’ take the example of an SPF record for a dummy domain with the correct syntax:

v=spf1  ip4:29.337.148 include:domain.com -all

 

Stopping the “No SPF Record Found” Message

If you want to stop getting the annoying “No SPF record found” prompt all you need to do is configure SPF for your domain by publishing a DNS TXT record. You can use our free SPF record generator to create an instant record with the correct syntax, to publish in your DNS.

All you need to do is:

  • Choose if you want to allow servers listed as MX to send emails for your domain
  • Choose if you want to allow current IP address of the domain to send email for this domain
  • Fill in the IP addresses authorized to send emails from your domain
  • Add any other server hostnames or domains that may deliver or relay mail for your domain
  • Choose your SPF policy mode or the level of strictness of the receiving server from Fail (non-compliant emails will be rejected), Soft-fail (Non-compliant emails will be accepted but marked), and Neutral (Mails will probably be accepted)
  • Click on Generate SPF Record to instantly create your record

In case you already have SPF configured for your domain, you can also use our free SPF record checker to lookup and validate your SPF record and detect issues.

Is Publishing an SPF Record Enough?

The answer is no. SPF alone cannot prevent your brand from being impersonated. For optimal protection against direct-domain spoofing, phishing attacks, and BEC, you need to configure DKIM and DMARC for your domain.

Furthermore, SPF has a limit of 10 DNS lookups. If you exceed this limit your SPF will break and authentication will fail for even legitimate emails. This is why you need a dynamic SPF flattener that will help your stay under the 10 DNS lookup limit, as well as keep you updated on changes made by your email exchange providers.

Hopefully this blog helped you resolve your problem and you never have to worry about the “No SPF record found” message bothering you again. Sign up for a free email authentication trial to improve your email deliverability and email security today!

 

Reasons why to avoid SPF Flattening

Sender Policy Framework, or SPF is a widely acclaimed email authentication protocol that validates your messages by authenticating them against all the authorized IP addresses registered for your domain in your SPF record. In order to validate emails, SPF specifies to the receiving mail server to perform DNS queries to check for authorized IPs, resulting in DNS lookups.

Your SPF record exists as a DNS TXT record that is formed of an assemblage of various mechanisms. Most of these mechanisms (such as include, a, mx, redirect, exists, ptr) generate DNS lookups. However, the maximum number of DNS lookups for SPF authentication is limited to 10. If you are using various third-party vendors to send emails using your domain, you can easily exceed the SPF hard limit.

You might be wondering, what happens if you exceed this limit? Exceeding the 10 DNS lookup limit will lead to SPF failure and invalidate even legitimate messages sent from your domain. In such cases the receiving mail server returns an SPF PermError report to your domain if you have DMARC monitoring enabled.This makes us come to the primary topic of discussion for this blog: SPF flattening.

What is SPF Flattening?

SPF record flattening is one of the popular methods used by industry experts to optimize your SPF record and avoid exceeding the SPF hard limit. The procedure for SPF flattening is quite simple. Flattening your SPF record is the process of replacing all include mechanisms with their respective IP addresses to eliminate the need for performing DNS lookups.

For example, if your SPF record initially looked something like this:

v=spf1 include:spf.domain.com -all

A flattened SPF record will look something like this:

v=spf1 ip4:168.191.1.1 ip6:3a02:8c7:aaca:645::1 -all

This flattened record generates only one DNS lookup, instead of performing multiple lookups. Reducing the number of DNS queries performed by the receiving server during email authentication does help in staying under the 10 DNS lookup limit, however, it has problems of its own.

The Problem with SPF Flattening

Apart from the fact that your manually flattened SPF record may get too lengthy to publish on your domain’s DNS (exceeding the 255 character limit), you have to take into account that your email service provider may change or add to their IP addresses without notifying you as the user. Every now and then when your provider makes changes to their infrastructure, these alterations would not be reflected in your SPF record. Hence, whenever these changed or new IP addresses are used by your mail server, the email fails SPF on the receiver’s side.

PowerSPF: Your Dynamic SPF Record Generator

The ultimate goal of PowerDMARC was to come up with a solution that can prevent domain owners from hitting the 10 DNS lookup limit, as well as optimize your SPF record to always stay updated on the latest IP addresses your email service providers are using. PowerSPF is your automated SPF flattening solution that pulls through your SPF record to generate a single include statement. PowerSPF helps you:

  • Add or remove IPs and mechanisms with ease
  • Auto update netblocks to make sure your authorized IPs are always up-to-date
  • Stay under the 10 DNS lookup limit with ease
  • Get an optimized SPF record with a single click
  • Permanently defeat ‘permerror’
  • Implement error free SPF

Sign up with PowerDMARC today to ensure enhanced email deliverability and authentication, all while staying under the 10 DNS SPF lookup limit.