SPF Authentication – How to create an SPF record

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    What Is Authentication and Why is it Important?

    Authentication in the context of email marketing is a technology that allows receivers (e.g. Hotmail, Yahoo!, Gmail, etc.) to confirm the identity of the sender of an email. If the identity of the sender can’t be authenticated, then receivers may reject the email or may put it through additional filters to determine whether or not it should be delivered.

    Authentication is important as it is integral to prevent phishing[1] and other fraudulent activities. It plays a key role in reputation and accreditation systems that will drive the future of email. Authentication is essential to securing your brand and online reputation as forged emails are more likely to be caught in spam filters which check for authentication methods. Since a domain that has authentication methods in place is less attractive to spammers, it is less likely to be blacklisted and ultimately legitimate email from the domain is more likely to get through to the recipients.

    How Does Authentication Work and what is SPF Authentication?

    Receivers utilise two primary methods of authentication: IP and cryptographic[2]. The IP authentication solution ties a responsible sending domain back to a set of permitted IP addresses. An example of IP authentication is SPF (Sender Policy Framework). By publishing a text record in the DNS (Domain Name System) record for each of your domains, you can provide valuable information to receivers about who is permitted to send emails using your domain name. Receivers use the DNS to check that emails from a domain are being sent from a host that is sanctioned by that domain’s administrators. SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is an email validation/authentication system designed to prevent email spam by verifying sender IP addresses. SPF allows administrators to specify which hosts are allowed to send mail from a given domain.

    If I’m Using gCast do I Need an SPF Record?

    If you have a private domain name for your business (e.g. www.mybusiness.com) and you send emails using that domain name (e.g. me@mybusiness.com) as opposed to using a free email provider (e.g. mybusiness@gmail.com) then it is likely that you already have an SPF record in place that authenticates your own mail servers to send on your behalf. gCast recommends that you also include the gCast domain in your SPF record so that you don’t encounter any deliverability issues with emails that are sent via the gCast platform.

    gCast is not Currently Authenticated to send Email on Behalf of My Domain, What Do I Need to Do Next?

    • Remember that creating an SPF record is a technical process. Enlist the assistance of your IT Department. If they are not able to manage the DNS records for your domains, they are most likely to know who to contact
    • For each domain and subdomain that you intend to use in gCast, have an SPF record that includes gcast.com.au ( include:gcast.com.au)
    • Ideally, your SPF record(s) should be in place before you start using the gCast platform to send emails on your behalf

    Where Can I Find Out More About SPF Records and Implementation?

    Your IT department is a good starting point and are likely to already have enough knowledge to either implement an SPF record or to amend your existing SPF record, but good technical starting points can be found here:

    http://www.openspf.org/

    http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc4408

    Footnotes

    1. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails whereby the perpetrator sends out legitimate-looking emails in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from recipients
    2. DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is an example of cryptographic authentication. It is not covered by this document but is implemented by gCast on our clients’ behalf
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