SC Magazine: Protect your email domain

Check out my opinion piece, published 10 April 2009, in SC Magazine’s print edition and on-line…

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Of all the struggles associated with securing email, one of the most basic is the identification and prevention of domain name forgery. Email has become an essential tool for business, however, there is absolutely no security layer required when an email message is sent and/or received.

Two promising technologies have been developed to protect against domain name forgery. Unfortunately, both have been lumped into the “anti-spam” category. While preventing some email spam is a minor side effect of these technologies, this mis‑characterization appears to have limited the widespread adoption of these technologies.

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is designed to empower domain owners to limit the ability of their domains to be forged within email addresses. SPF records are published via DNS and provides owners a means to specify which mail sources are legitimate for their domain.

Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) is a cryptographic domain authentication protocol developed to protect against domain forgery within email addresses. DKIM is the merger of two similar concepts from Yahoo! and Cisco.

Here’s the catch… Both SPF and DKIM require domain owners to take responsibility for themselves. In this day and age, any business or organization that relies on email as a trusted channel of communication owes it to themselves and their customers/partners to implement SPF and DKIM for each of their domains as soon as possible. While some consider this to be a “chicken and the egg” proposition, it’s clear that now is the time for responsible internet citizens to step up and embrace these important technologies.

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