The Anatomy of DMARC: DKIM & SPF – An Email Authentication Guide

Ralph Lentz
Feb. 15, 2013 by Ralph Lentz

Just over a year ago a group of the Internet’s biggest companies announced the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) working group, an industry-based approach to combatting spam, phishing and other forms of messaging abuse. And on the one-year anniversary last week, announced a rather remarkable accomplishment: the DMARC standard now protects almost two-thirds of the world’s 3.3 billion consumer mailboxes worldwide. The DMARC announcement also noted that the new standard was responsible for blocking 325 million unauthenticated messages in November and December 2012 alone.

Here at Message Systems, we’ve always made it a point to place email security and marketing best practices at the center of all that we do. It’s why we were one of the first email technology providers to throw our support behind DMARC, and why we continue working to help Message Systems customers get up to speed with authentication best practices in general and DMARC specifically. There are lots of great information resources for getting up to speed on implementing DMARC. Here’s a few from the Message Systems community:


Our partner, ReturnPath has created a 101 Guide on creating a DKIM record, Protecting Your Brand From Phishing: How to Create a DKIM Record. Here is a summary of the steps to be taken:

  1. Inventory all of your sending domains.
  2. Install and configure DKIM on your email server.
  3. Create a public and private key pair. 
  4. Publish your public key.
  5. Store your private key.
  6. Configure your email server
  7. Test


As part of that same series, ReturnPath also has a guide to SPF email authentication, Protecting Your Brand From Phishing: How to create your SPF record. Here are the 4 steps you have to take:

  1. Determine the domains that your email campaigns are sent from
  2. Gather the IP addresses that are used to send the emails
  3. Create your SPF record
  4. Publish your SPF to DNS

These steps are covered in a lot more detail in the entries above, so we’d recommend hopping over to check those entries out.


Additionally, Franck Martin, Postmaster at LinkedIn and a long-time friend of Message Systems, has developed a set of scripts for implementing DMARC on the Momentum platform. He’s made these scripts available online at GitHub. They provide an elegant solution for filtering incoming emails and rejecting those that fail DMARC. Franck has also developed other tools and scripts for managing and monitoring a Message Systems Momentum cluster.

Thanks Franck for these great resources!

If you’d like to find out more about DMARC, download the How DMARC Is Saving Email eBook!

How DMARC Is Saving Email

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