Today we are celebrating a recent stricter enforcement of DKIM and SPF, a “dynamic duo” whose mission is to improve email deliverability while strengthening the prevention of forgery as part of phishing attempts. Although DKIM and SPF were created nearly two decades ago, a recent change in the consumer (free) version of Gmail has forced a stricter implementation of SPF for many legitimate senders. This caused some momentary stress for some, but in the long run is better for all of us. When we talk about SPF in this context, we aren’t talking about the Screen Protection Factor often quoted with sunscreen products, but of Sender Policy Framework. Here, SPF is an email authentication method which ensures that the sending mail server is indeed authorized to originate mail from the email sender’s domain. Forgery of the originating address is known as email spoofing, and is often used in phishing attempts. The list of authorized sending hosts and IP addresses for a domain is published in the DNS records for sending domain. SPF’s “partner” in this mission is called DKIM and stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail. Anyone who uses a personal or professional domain should be familiar with both DKIM and SPF, especially if you bought the domain independently from your other providers (plural), which is dramatically better, as I cover in detail in my ebook Branded RSS Podcasting: The definitive guide.
The reason I wrote the word providers in plural is because many owners of personal or professional domains use them both with their standard email (sent to individuals) and campaign mail (aka “email blasts”) via services like Constant Contact, Elastic Email and Mailchimp. Even those owners of personal or professional domains who don’t currently use any campaign email often use premium email services like Google Workspaces (previously called G Suites) or Proton Mail. Fortunately, all of the aforementioned service providers will supply us with the appropriate DKIM and SPF records to be added (or properly merged) to the domain’s DNS. Sadly, many of those users skip those important steps, resulting (in milder cases) with mail delivered to the recipient’s “spam” or “junk” folder. In stricter cases, the mail is completely rejected by the addressee.
Complete rejection recently began with the consumer Gmail (not the professional paid one) even with SPF records which were previously accepted by the consumer Gmail. As of a couple of months ago, the consumer Gmail started to become much stricter in terms of which details must be included in an SPF record in order to accept (not reject) email messages. In the course of a few days, several people asked me to help fix the situation for them, and I did. No sunscreen was required, just a very detailed amendment to their SPF records. I thank the consumer Gmail for being the catalyst for this forced upgrade. I only wish they had created a press release in advance of the change.
Whether using the included standard email or premium email services like Google Workspaces (previously called G Suites) or Proton Mail, all users of my TecnoTur hosting get included tech support to configure their DKIM and SPF records ideally for their unique situations.
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No manufacturer has or email service provider paid for this article. Many manufacturers have sent Allan Tépper review units. Some of the manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur, BeyondPodcasting, CapicúaFM or TuSaludSecreta programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own. Allan Tépper is not liable for misuse or misunderstanding of information he shares.