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What are DKIM and SPF and why should I use it?

Email validation solutions are very important for companies that require protected communications. There are a number of different kinds of systems that are used by companies in order to make sure that the sending and receiving of emails is done in a proper manner. Both DKIM and SPF are considered to be methods, or systems which are used to provide additional security and increase the ease with which a person or an organization can view its emails. Both DKIM and SPF serve different purposes, however.


The Domain Keys Identified Mail is a process that can be used to connect a domain name to an email message, giving responsibility to an individual or a company for having sent the message from their email server. By associating the domain name to the email message, the recipient is capable of validating the email message. The Domain Keys Identified Mail uses a digital signature that is attached to each email message. The responsibility for sending the message is claimed by a ‘signer’. The public key of the signer is received by the verifier or the recipient via DNS, who will then make sure that the signature is similar to the actual content of the message. Usually, the DKIM is placed in the header, but it can be used in various other fields as well, such as the body of the message, the ‘from’ or the ‘to’ fields.

The Domain Keys Identified Mail is a pretty popular method, and is being used by various top of the line companies such as FastMail, AOL, Yahoo and Gmail. Therefore, any mail that is sent using any of the services mentioned above will contain a DKIM signature. DKIM is great for use in filtering spam emails as well as phishing websites which often send such mails. It can be implemented on your own open source email server.


SPF, or the Sender Policy Framework is a validation system designed for emails. Its basic purpose is to be used for preventing email spam and spoofing, one of the most common problems that email users face. However, SPF is capable of preventing email spoofing by setting up a verification process for IP addresses from which emails are sent. With the help of the Sender Policy Framework, administrators get the capability of choosing which host is able to send emails from a specified domain, by setting up a SPF record in the Domain Name System. SPF can be implemented on your own open source email server.

The advantages of SPF are evident for daily email users. As the popularity of email has spread, it has become a major tool for marketing, and thanks to this system, you are able to specify which addresses you wish to filter. The idea for SPF was first introduced back in 1997, though the first public concept was put forth in the year 2000. At present, SPF is widely used by a number of companies, such as Gmail and Outlook, both of which allow their users to create spam filters and lists to prevent unneeded messages.