The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased the reliance on email communication, as more people are working from home and relying on email to communicate with colleagues, clients, and vendors.
This has also led to a significant increase in cybercriminals using email as a vector for phishing attacks, email fraud, and other malicious activities. As a result, email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are more important than ever in 2023.
One reason why email authentication protocols are more critical in 2023 is that the pandemic has led to a significant increase in the volume of email traffic. Cybercriminals have been quick to exploit this increase in email traffic by sending phishing emails that appear to be from legitimate sources, such as health organisations, government agencies, or financial institutions.
By using email authentication protocols, domain owners can protect their domains from being used for these fraudulent activities and help prevent their customers from falling victim to phishing scams.
Another reason why email authentication protocols are more critical in 2023 is that the pandemic has led to a significant increase in the number of people working from home. This means that employees are often using their personal devices and networks to access company email, which increases the risk of email fraud and phishing attacks.
Email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM and DMARC can help protect against these risks by verifying the authenticity of email messages and reducing the likelihood of email messages being marked as spam or being blocked by email filters.
In this article, we'll explain what each of these protocols is.
SPF, or Sender Policy Framework, is an email authentication protocol that allows domain owners to specify which email servers are authorised to send email messages on their behalf. SPF records are published in the domain's DNS records and are checked by the email recipient's server to verify the authenticity of an email message.
SPF is important in 2023 because it helps prevent email spoofing and phishing attacks by verifying the sender's identity. By checking the SPF record of the sender's domain, email receivers can determine if an email message was sent from a legitimate source or not.
Example: A company called ABC Corp. publishes an SPF record in its DNS records that specify the email servers authorised to send emails using its domain name. If a cybercriminal tries to send a phishing email using ABC Corp.'s domain name but doesn't match the authorised email servers, the email will be flagged as fraudulent.
DKIM, or Domain Keys Identified Mail, is an email authentication protocol that adds a domain specific digital signature to an email message to verify its authenticity. DKIM uses public-key cryptography to add the signature to the email header, which can be verified by the email recipient's server.
DKIM is important in 2023 because it helps prevent email spoofing and phishing attacks by verifying the authenticity of an email message. By checking the DKIM signature of an email message, email receivers can determine if the message has been tampered with during transmission.
Example: A company called DEF Corp. uses DKIM to sign its email messages with a digital signature. If a cybercriminal tries to modify the email message during transmission, the DKIM signature will be invalid, and the email will be flagged as fraudulent.
DMARC, or Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance, is an email policy that provides a way for email receivers to determine if an email message has been sent from a legitimate source or not. DMARC combines two other email authentication protocols, SPF and DKIM, to check if an email message has been sent from authorised sources.
DMARC is important in 2023 because it helps prevent email fraud and phishing attacks by enabling domain owners to specify that an email must pass SPF and/or DKIM checks to be delivered. This reduces the likelihood of email messages being marked as spam or being blocked by email filters. Additionally, DMARC helps domain owners gain insights into their email ecosystem and provides detailed insights on SPF and DKIM compliance.
Example: A company called XYZ Inc. implements a strict DMARC policy to legitimise all emails sent for it's domain. If a cybercriminal tries to send a phishing email using XYZ Inc.'s domain name from a server that is not mentioned in the SPF, or is not DKIM signed, the email will be flagged as fraudulent or rejected because it doesn't pass the SPF and/or DKIM checks as defined by the DMARC policy.
In conclusion, SPF and DKIM, DMARC are essential email authentication protocols that help prevent email fraud and phishing attacks.
By using these protocols, domain owners can protect their brand reputation, improve email deliverability, and gain insights into their email ecosystem. In 2023, as cybercriminals continue to evolve their tactics, these protocols will remain crucial for ensuring the cybersecurity and authenticity of email communication.
If you would like to know more about how SPF and DKIM, DMARC will work for you, don't hesitate to contact IT Basecamp for more network security solutions.