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The Advantages Of Email Authentication

Authentication is one way of making the electronic marketplace more secure and improving consumer confidence in email, thus preserving it as a valuable marketing communications tool.

Authentication improves the likelihood that legitimate email will get through to the intended recipient. Very soon, however, authentication may become more than just “best practices”, and it may be a necessary process in order to clear ISP gatekeepers, and ensure the delivery of your email to your customers or even to your staff on the road.

Additionally, authentication reduces the likelihood of spam, spoofing and phishing attacks, thus protecting the integrity of marketers’ brands, and curbing spam.

How Does Email Authentication Reduce and Protect Against Spam?

Spam causes problems for both consumers and marketers. The spam problem is not going away, and spammers quickly adapt to filters set up by Internet and Mailbox Providers thus blurring the perception in consumers’ minds of which commercial email is legitimate and which is spam. Authenticated email will help ISPs and Mailbox Providers better identify legitimate email. Spammers will then be distinguished from senders of legitimate email and reliably deliver wanted mail to consumers with higher certainty, and at a lower cost.

Authentication combined with email reputation and accreditation programs will ultimately help email receivers distinguish legitimate messages from spam.

Example:

Using SPF technology, suppose a spammer forges an ABC.com address and tries to spam you. The spammer connects from somewhere other than ABC’s email servers. When the message is sent, you see “Mail From: ".

ABC publishes an SPF record. That record tells your ISP or Mailbox Provider how to find out if the sending machine is allowed to send mail from ABC. If ABC says they recognize the sending machine, it passes, and your ISP or Mailbox Provider can assume the sender is who it says it is.

How Does Email Authentication Reduce and Protect Against Spoofing & Phishing?

Spoofing, a method often used by spammers, is the forging of another person’s or company’s email address to get users to open a message. Phishing is sending an email that attempts to trick recipients into giving out personal information, such as credit card numbers or account passwords. The email pretends to be from a legitimate source, such as a user’s bank, credit card company, or online Web merchant.

Most phishing attacks come from email in which the sender’s name in the “From Line” has been forged or spoofed. Authentication is predicted to cause a significant reduction in spoofing and phishing attacks because those particular elements of email fraud are identity-based. Therefore, identity authentication will either stop phishing and spoofing, make it easier for consumers to steer clear of them, or make it easier for law enforcement to go after them.

For well-known companies that commonly send email to consumers, such as banks, utilities, remote retailers, and e-commerce services, the benefits of authentication are more profound, as authentication can help them protect their users from phishing attacks. For these companies, protecting their users from fraudulent emails translates directly into user protection, user satisfaction, reduced customer care costs, and brand protection and trust.

Example:
Implementing DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) can protect companies that are susceptible to phishing and spoofing attacks. Companies can sign all of their outgoing emails with DKIM and publish their policies so that ISPs can watch and block any messages that claim to come from their domains that are unsigned.

If the company ‘www.example.com’ signs all of its outgoing email with DomainKeys, Yahoo! can add a filter to its spam protection system that blocks any unsigned or improperly signed messages claiming to come from the domain www.example.com, thus protecting tens of millions of example.com's customers (or prospective customers) from these phishing and spoofing attacks. DKIM also examines the integrity of the message body.