Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Fact or Fiction: SPF, DKIM, and DMARC Myths vs. Business Benefits


In the previous blog, the discussion unraveled the intricacies of email authentication mechanisms - SPF, DKIM, and DMARC and their fundamental roles. Today, the focus shifts toward dispelling common myths encircling these mechanisms. They are not immune to misconceptions, and clarifying their true capabilities is essential to identifying their tangible benefits for businesses. From boosting credibility to safeguarding against cyber threats, these mechanisms hold significant value beyond their technical functions.

Myths Unraveled

1. SPF alone suffices for email security.

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) works by checking whether an email was sent from an authorized IP address. However, it is important to note that SPF alone does not provide comprehensive email security. It needs to be combined with DKIM and DMARC, and together, they work as a robust solution against email spoofing.

2. DKIM guarantees unalterable emails.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) works by adding a domain's signature to emails and ensures that the email remains unaltered in transit. A valid DKIM signature guarantees that the message originated from the domain specified in the signature, but it provides no information on whether the content is safe. Also, while DKIM provides an encrypted digital signature, it does not encrypt the actual content of the email.

3. DMARC eliminates most email phishing and spoofing concerns.

While DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is a powerful tool in combating email phishing and spoofing, it does not completely eradicate all concerns related to these threats.

The image below is an example of a phishing email that passed SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

Phishing email example

The email looks legitimate; it displays the company logo, uses official language, and directs the receiver to a landing page that mirrors the organization's website. The problem arises when the cursor hovers over the "Update Account Now" button. Instead of leading the customer to the company's domain, it leads to an unfamiliar website.

Some users believe that DMARC should have caught this phishing attempt. But why did DMARC fail to catch this?

DMARC identifies spoofed emails from your domain, often used in phishing scams. But in the example above, the attacker used a look-alike domain, replacing the (oh) in orange with a 0 (zero). If the attacker has set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC for the look-alike domain, chances are the fraudulent email will reach the user's inbox. Even if the content would be obvious to some as phishing, to the DMARC system, the email is properly authenticated.

4. I've set up DMARC for my email domain as I'm using Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, both of which assure support for DMARC.

Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace check for DMARC validation. However, they do not offer DMARC data analysis.

5. DMARC is only for big organizations and major email senders.

DMARC is not exclusive to large organizations that send high volumes of email. It is essential for all businesses, regardless of size, to authenticate their emails and prevent domain spoofing or impersonation. All businesses can benefit from the security measures DMARC provides to safeguard their email communications and maintain their domain's integrity.

Dispelling the misconceptions surrounding email authentication protocols is the first step in uncovering their inherent benefits. Once clarified, these protocols reveal their vital role in upholding email integrity. Let us explore their tangible benefits in safeguarding email integrity. 

Why implement SPF, DKIM, and DMARC?

Enhanced Email Credibility

Implementing SPF, DKIM, and DMARC boosts your email authenticity. Verified emails are less likely to be marked as spam or phishing attempts, enhancing your brand's credibility.

Improved Deliverability

By reducing the chances of legitimate emails landing in spam folders, SPF, DKIM, and DMARC contribute to better email deliverability rates, ensuring critical messages reach the audience. With improved deliverability, it will immediately increase the open rates and ROI on marketing emails.

Brand Reputation Protection

Preventing unauthorized usage of one's domain for malicious purposes preserves a brand's integrity and trustworthiness in the eyes of their clients and partners. By safeguarding against email fraud and spoofing, they build trust with customers, assuring them that communications from their domains are authentic and secure.

Comprehensive Email Protection

The combined use of SPF, DKIM, and DMARC provides a multi-layered defense, significantly reducing the likelihood of successful email-based attacks. These mechanisms provide robust defenses against email spoofing and phishing, safeguarding sensitive business and customer data.


As digital risks evolve, SPF, DKIM, and DMARC stand strong as shields against cyber threats. While debunking myths is crucial, understanding their pivotal role in fortifying email security and their substantial business advantages is equally vital.

Empowering a business with these protocols involves effective implementation, safeguarding its communications, and fortifying the brand's trustworthiness and reliability in cyberspace.

Protect your emails, protect your business!

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