Did you know that domain name authentication can actually protect your domain name from hackers who try to send phishing emails or spam? It’s like having your own personal bodyguard for your emails! This not only keeps your sender’s reputation intact but also ensures that your messages smoothly reach your recipients’ inboxes by passing through spam filters.
So, let’s dig in and discover why domain name authentication is so important and how it works.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is a human-readable and memorable name that is used to identify and access websites and other online resources on the Internet. It serves as an address for locating and identifying specific web pages, email servers, or other services associated with that domain.
A domain name consists of two main parts: the top-level domain (TLD) and the second-level domain (SLD). The TLD is the rightmost part of the domain name, such as .com, .org, .net, .edu, or country-specific TLDs like .uk or .ca. The SLD is the part of the domain name that appears to the left of the TLD.
For example, in the domain name “example.com,” “example” is the SLD, and “.com” is the TLD. Domain names are not case-sensitive, so “example.com” and “Example.com” would refer to the same domain.
What is Domain Name Authentication?
Domain name authentication verifies if an email message is actually sent by the sender they are claiming to be. This is done to abort threat actors’ attempts to send fraudulent and phishing emails using your domain name. Such emails manipulate recipients (usually your clients, prospects, and employees) into sharing confidential details or making wire transfers.
Blocking such messages is vital for protecting your brand image and stopping you from falling into litigation. Common domain name authentication standards are SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. They operate to help recipients’ mailboxes identify if the email sent from your domain is legitimate or not. If not, you can decide to have them marked as spam or get rejected by receivers’ mailboxes.
To ensure a higher deliverability rate, you need to setup up domain authentication so that email headers contain domain details that help in the email authentication process.
Why is Domain Name Authentication Important?
Domain name authentication establishes trust in email service providers and your recipients that the message has actually come from the source it claims to be coming from. You should consider its implementation as it bears the following benefits-
- Domain name authentication improves the email deliverability rate and decreases the probability of genuine emails sent from your domain being marked as spam.
- It prevents your emails from being modified or tampered with during the delivery process.
- It allows only email senders that are authorized to send emails on your domain’s behalf, to do so.
- Newsletters sent from your domain look more professional. Moreover, it can also impact the overall value of your online assets, making it important to ask, ‘How much is a domain worth?’
Which Domains to Authenticate?
You can set up as many authenticated domains and subdomains as you use for sending emails. You can also include domains and subdomains that you use for supporting embedded forms with pre-fill enabled. It is also important to authenticate your inactive or parked domains to ensure they are not used for malicious purposes.
Remember to use the full domain name while authenticating it as it appears in your return email addresses. Say, your email address is [email protected], then you have to authenticate example.com and not www.example.com. When deciding which domains to authenticate, we must consider the level of sensitivity and the potential impact of unauthorized access in each case. Additionally, stay informed about the latest security practices and technologies to ensure your authentication mechanisms are up-to-date and effective against emerging threats.
How to Authenticate Your Domain?
You need to create and add SPF and DKIM records to your domain’s DNS panel to authenticate it-
Use SPF to verify the sender
SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework, an email authentication protocol that indicates which IP addresses or servers are permitted to send emails on behalf of your domain.
You can use our free SPF record generator tool to get started with email and domain authentication journeys.
Use DKIM to maintain content legitimacy
DKIM is short for DomainKeys Identified Mail. It uses a cryptographically secured pair of public and private keys that digitally sign your emails. The public key is published on DNS so that recipients’ mailboxes can access it for email authentication. The private key is securely kept on the email service provider’s server.
You can use our DKIM record generator to create a DKIM record for your domain.
Use DMARC for domain alignment
For an additional (and crucial) layer of security, you may consider enabling DMARC. With a DMARC policy in place, you can take charge of your domain name authentication system by having the ability to instruct how impersonated emails should be treated- i.e. whether they should be accepted, rejected, or marked as spam.
Get Started with Domain Name Authentication
- After creating your authentication records, login to your DNS management console
- Click on DNS Zone editor or Advanced Zone Editor
- Open your domain’s DNS page and add the DKIM as a CNAME record and SPF and DMARC as TXT records with their respective Name and Value fields.
Note: Steps may vary depending on the company that hosts your domain. You can get in touch with your hosting provider to know more.
Resolving Domain Name Authentication Errors
Here are some troubleshooting steps you can follow if you are stuck-
DKIM Record Authentication Errors
If your DKIM record fails, you may want to take a second look at the following-
- Host Field Value: The Host field accepts either litesrv._domainkey (without your domain) or litesrv._domainkey.yourdomain.com, so try both.
- Record Type: Ensure the DKIM record type is CNAME or TXT resource type, speak to your DNS hosting provider regarding the resource type that is supported by them.
- Syntax Errors: Make sure your DKIM record is accurate. To ensure your record is free from any errors, you may want to outsource your protocol management to hosted DKIM services.
SPF Record Authentication Errors
There are some common reasons that may trigger SPF failure–
Unmatching SPF Records
Check the Host and Value fields. The value field on your DNS page should be exactly the same as the one on your Domains page. Remember, they are case-sensitive.
Exceeding the limit of DNS lookups
The SPF lookup limit refers to the maximum number of DNS lookups that can be performed while checking SPF records for an incoming email. When this limit is exceeded (>10 lookups), it can lead to incomplete SPF record evaluation, potentially allowing malicious emails to bypass proper authentication. This can result in a higher risk of phishing, spoofing, and spam attacks as legitimate senders might not be properly authenticated, and recipients might trust fraudulent emails due to incomplete SPF validation.
While the limit is extremely easy to exceed when you use multiple vendors to send your emails, staying under the limit is just as easy with an auto SPF flattening tool.
Multiple SPF Records
You can’t have more than one SPF record for a domain. If you locate more records, then they need to be merged. Click here to learn how to merge SPF records.
Domain name authentication eliminates or reduces the risk of malicious-intended outsiders sending fraudulent emails to your clients, prospects, and employees and tricking them into sharing sensitive information. Domain name authentication is crucial for maintaining the security, trust, and reliability of email communications, ultimately benefiting both senders and recipients in the realm of email authentication as well as marketing.
PowerDMARC can help you in this journey! Our comprehensive suite of email security and domain name authentication solutions can help you take charge of your own domain and prevent illegitimate and unauthorized usage of your domain name in email phishing scams. Sign-up today to take a free DMARC trial of our platform!
- What is Email Authentication? Check and Authenticate Your Emails - February 29, 2024
- How to fix “No SPF record found” in 2024? - February 27, 2024
- How do I fix “DMARC Policy is Not Enabled” in 2024? - December 29, 2023