Everything about Email Authentication, its Benefits and Protocols

Cybercriminals are sneaky individuals who always find ways to make a living out of messing with other people's lives. Sometimes they hijack devices. Other times they impersonate businesses to steal and earn money. Because of it, internet and email service providers (ISPs and ESPs) set up security protocols to protect their clients from receiving suspicious emails.

Email Authentication

This impairs the deliverability of email campaigns which affects businesses and email marketers. While it’s good that these security protocols are in place to protect marketers and their customers, marketers should also follow the rules for safe email marketing to ensure high campaign deliverability. This is done by setting up email authentication protocols.

What is Email Authentication?

Email authentication is a security protocol used to help ISPs and ESPs verify the legitimacy of email campaigns. This is to prevent cybercriminals from spoofing emails through internet bugs to steal personal information, scam, send spam, and plant nefarious software into email receivers’ computer criminals cannot impersonate your domain, email, and internet protocol (IP) address.

What are the Benefits of Email Authentication?

There are a lot of benefits to reap when you perform email authentication. One is that it protects your business's reputation because your domain, email, and internet protocol (IP) address cannot be impersonated by criminals for sending malicious emails. The same goes for the email campaigns you send. Email authentication prevents your sent campaigns from being intercepted, forged, or tampered with.

If an impersonation is attempted, ISPs and ESPs will automatically block the sender of a bogus email and the email because the impersonator has no proof that they are you. ISPs and ESPs will also check if the email was really sent from a reputable source. If an interception occurred, there would be a change in your emails’ code, causing it to be rejected by your customers’ ISPs and ESPs.

Another benefit is that email deliverability is improved. This means reduced bounce, reject, ignore, quarantine, and sent to the spam box rates. Even if you operate a legitimate business, ISPs and ESPs will still need to see authentication protocols in place, especially if you're new to email marketing. Email authentication helps you build a good reputation that increases your campaigns’ chances of landing into your customers’ inboxes.

Basic Email Authentication Protocols You Should Know

Just as there are a lot of benefits to email authentication, there are also different types of authentication protocols that you as a marketer should know about. Here are 3 of the basic types of email authentication protocols:

1. Sender Policy Framework (SPF)

SPF is the authentication protocol that specifies which email service providers, email servers, and internet protocol addresses are authorized to send emails from your domain. Think of it as if you sent a package to someone and you instructed the receiver only to receive the package if a certain person delivered it with full name and physical description.

This authentication protocol is mainly used to prevent spoofing - forging email sender addresses to send emails that contain phishing links.

2. Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM)

As mentioned, cybercriminals are sneaky and persistent individuals who will do anything to steal. That includes hijacking an email to tamper with and insert malicious content. DKIM may not prevent that, but it gives the email receiver’s end signs to look for an altered email.

It’s similar to a candle wax seal of a letter. If the seal is broken, the recipient should not accept the letter. The main purpose of DKIM is only to let the receiver open the email. This is done by you providing a public cryptography key through your Domain Name System (DNS) records.

Your receiver’s system will then look for that key and use it to open your mail. But since it’s a public key, cybercriminals can also look at your key and use it to open your message. The catch is, once opened, the digital signature of the email is changed and cannot be undone.

Once ISPs and ESPs detect that an email was opened other than the sender and the receiver, it will not reach the receiver’s inbox and would be quarantined, blocked, reported, or bounced.

3. Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC)

You can also choose what happens to the emails that are sent on your behalf but weren’t able to reach the recipients’ inboxes. This is done through DMARC authentication. It combines the SPF and DKIM authentication and adds rules to what happens to the emails that were sent from your domain but seemed to pose a cybersecurity threat.

For example, you can set what happens to emails that use your domain as to where it came from. You can set it to be rejected, bounced, ignored, reported, quarantined, or be sent to the spam box. The best part of DMARC is that you’ll receive a report about the authentication failure - a good feature that helps you track your impersonators to be listed or reported.

Conclusion:

Email authentication is essential. It protects your business’s and sender’s reputation by preventing criminals from sending malicious emails on your behalf. It also protects your customers from receiving threatening emails from people claiming to be you.

New email marketers might find their campaigns having alarming deliverability rates even if the content they send is excellent. This is because they haven’t built a reputation yet by setting up their authentication protocols.

Before you start sending large volumes of campaigns, always set up your authentication protocols first. The earlier, the better. Build a credible sender’s reputation through IP warming. Then grow your mailing list and be a successful email marketer!

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TechGlobeX: Everything about Email Authentication, its Benefits and Protocols
Everything about Email Authentication, its Benefits and Protocols
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