What is the importance of DKIM and SPF alignment: How can KDMARC help?

What is the importance of DKIM and SPF alignment: How can KDMARC help?

In 1971, Ray Tomlison became the first person to use email. Since then, 3.8 billion users have been connected through this medium of communication. An estimate says that by the end of the year 2022, the number of email users will reach 4.2 billion. The impact of email is huge. Businesses have emerged using email as a medium to approach probable customers or clients. Communication among employees belonging to the same organization also takes place via email.

The impact of email is huge. Businesses have emerged using email as a medium to approach probable customers or clients. Communication among employees belonging to the same organization also takes place via email.

This makes it essential to protect the email domain against any misuse. It is important to employ a certain effective measure that can help organizations in achieving 360-degree protection against malicious entities. DMARC helps in achieving this.

What is DMARC?

DMARC or Domain based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance is a protocol that uses Sender Policy Framework and DomainKeys identified mail for authenticating an email.

What is domain alignment?

Domain alignment means that the ‘From’ address in an email must match with the actual sender of the address. For DMARC to work properly, domain alignment is necessary. There are two types of domain alignment including:

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) alignment: The domain of your email’s Mail- ‘From’ (MFrom) address and ‘From’ address must match.

DomainKeys identified mail (DKIM) alignment: Email’s root domain of the DKIM signing domain should match with the Header From domain.

DomainKeys identified (DKIM)

Both SPF and DKIM alignment are either:

Relaxed alignment: In this type of alignment, the domain should match the parent Header From domain. Relaxed alignment is the default that allows the use of a subdomain and helps in meeting the requirement of domain alignment.

Strict alignment: This alignment type requires the domain to match with the Header From domain exactly. If strict alignment has not been specified, relaxed alignment is automatically assumed.

So, why do we need to have both SPF and DKIM alignment?

SPF and DKIM alignment back each other up. Alignment and authentication of either SPF or DKIM is enough for emails to pass DMARC. However, both protocols have their own pitfalls and nuances that can affect the implementation and maintenance that includes transient errors that may occur due to the loss of packets of data and transmissions fail randomly due to several reasons.

Senders who run into sporadic problems with one authentication protocol and cannot fix that problem immediately can find a large proportion of their legitimate emails blocked because of the failure of DMARC. Mailbox providers favour those senders that pass and align with both SPF and DKIM.

Having both SPF and DKIM configured to pass and align, provides your outbound emails with the extra layer of protection. Using two-protocol authentication is a very strong approach that will have a positive effect on email deliverability.

With the alignment of SPF and DKIM, emails are authenticated and thus, this prevents malicious emails from entering the inbox. KDMARC is a tool that helps in the appropriate alignment of these parameters and helps in protecting your email domain against various threat actors.

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