How to Improve Email Deliverability Through Authentication?

Andre Oentoro
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Email authentication protocols provide a layered approach to security, ensuring that messages are sent from legitimate sources, have not been tampered with, and are protected during transmission. By implementing these authentication techniques, businesses can enjoy several key benefits:

  • Protection against Phishing: Phishing attacks are one of the most common and dangerous email-based threats. Attackers often impersonate legitimate organizations to trick recipients into revealing sensitive information or performing malicious actions. Email authentication protocols, such as DKIM, DMARC, and SPF, help prevent phishing attempts by verifying the authenticity of the sender's identity. This protection reduces the risk of data breaches and financial losses resulting from compromised accounts.
  • Preservation of Brand Reputation: Businesses invest significant time and effort into building their brand reputation. However, cybercriminals can exploit email channels to damage a company's image by sending fraudulent emails that appear to be from the organization. By implementing email authentication, organizations can prevent unauthorized use of their brand, ensuring that recipients can trust the legitimacy of their communications. BIMI, in particular, allows businesses to enhance brand visibility by displaying their logos alongside authenticated emails, reinforcing brand recognition and authenticity.
  • Reduction of Spam and False Positives: Spam emails not only clutter inboxes but also pose a security risk. Email authentication protocols like SPF and DKIM help reduce spam by providing mechanisms for email servers to verify the legitimacy of senders. This verification process improves the accuracy of spam filters, minimizing the chances of legitimate emails being misclassified as spam (false positives) and increasing the overall efficiency of email delivery.
  • Enhanced Delivery and Inbox Placement: Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and email service providers employ various filters and algorithms to protect their users from unwanted and potentially harmful emails. By implementing robust email authentication protocols, businesses increase their chances of having their emails delivered to the intended recipients' inboxes rather than being flagged as suspicious or malicious. This improved delivery and inbox placement optimizes communication effectiveness and ensures that important messages reach their recipients without delay.
  • Strengthened Regulatory Compliance: Many industries are subject to regulations regarding data protection and privacy, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. Email authentication plays a crucial role in meeting these compliance requirements by providing an additional layer of security to protect sensitive information and ensuring that email communications adhere to established standards.
  • Mitigation of Email-based Threats: Email-based threats extend beyond phishing attacks. Techniques like email spoofing, where an attacker forges the sender's identity, can lead to social engineering attacks and unauthorized access to sensitive information. By implementing email authentication protocols, organizations can effectively mitigate these threats and reduce the risk of falling victim to such attacks.

Improving Email Deliverability with Authentication

Understanding DMARC

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is an email authentication protocol that aims to prevent email spoofing and phishing attacks. It allows email senders to specify policies for email receivers to follow when handling messages from their domain. By publishing a DMARC record, domain owners can protect their brand reputation and improve email deliverability.

DMARC Record Explained

A DMARC record is a DNS (Domain Name System) TXT record that outlines the authentication and reporting policies for a domain. It includes information such as the sender's email authentication methods (SPF and DKIM) and instructions for handling failed authentication results. Email receivers can check the DMARC record to determine how to handle incoming messages and whether they align with the specified policies.

Enhancing Email Security

Implementing a robust email security strategy is crucial to protecting both senders and recipients. DMARC offers a mechanism to authenticate email senders, which helps prevent domain spoofing and phishing attacks. When an email fails DMARC alignment, the receiving server can take appropriate action, such as quarantining or rejecting the message, thereby reducing the risk of fraudulent activities.

Leveraging BIMI

BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) is an email specification that allows brands to display their logo alongside authenticated emails in the recipient's inbox. It enhances both brand recognition and email security. To implement BIMI, the sender must have a valid DMARC record, SPF, and DKIM configured. By displaying a brand logo, BIMI provides visual assurance to recipients that the email is legitimate, further improving email deliverability.

MTA-STS for Secure Transport

MTA-STS (Mail Transfer Agent Strict Transport Security) is an email security mechanism that ensures secure communication between email servers. It enforces the use of encrypted connections (TLS) when transferring messages, protecting the content from interception and tampering. By implementing MTA-STS, senders can enhance the privacy and security of email transmissions, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Understanding DKIM and DKIM Signatures

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is an email authentication method that uses digital signatures to verify the authenticity of the sender's domain. It adds a digital signature to the email header, which can be verified by the recipient's server. The DKIM signature provides assurance that the email hasn't been altered during transit. By publishing a DKIM record and signing outgoing emails, senders can improve email deliverability and reduce the likelihood of their messages being marked as spam.

In conclusion, email authentication is of paramount importance for businesses in today's digital landscape. It not only protects against phishing attempts, brand impersonation, and unauthorized use of company assets but also enhances brand visibility, increases email deliverability, and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements.

By implementing robust email authentication protocols such as DKIM selectors, DMARC policies, SPF record checks, BIMI, and MTA-STS, businesses can safeguard their communications, build trust with their stakeholders, and maintain a secure and reliable email environment. Investing in email authentication is a proactive measure that demonstrates a commitment to security, privacy, and the overall protection of valuable business assets.

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Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).


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