Sending fake emails that look like they come from your company is trivial for cybercriminals. Building trust is an essential part of growing your business. If someone uses your company's email addresses to commit cybercrime, it can seriously damage your reputation.
Cybercriminals are experts in social engineering, and they often use email to extort money or harm their victims. To mask their trail, they pretend to be a company that the customer does business with and send fake emails from its domain name.
How does this happen?
Hackers can easily use your company website and social media to get sensitive information that they can use to make their fraudulent emails to customers seem more authentic. They can spoof your email and valid email addresses to create a fake email address in a second.
Your customers may not know how to spot a phishing email and may respond to these emails with their data, or worse, financial details. Things can escalate out of your control, and your customers may lose their faith in you and stop doing business with you. Privacy breaches can easily cost companies up to $8.19 million per incident in the US alone! If you're not careful, you can become extremely vulnerable to cybercrime.
It is your responsibility to prevent such crimes and protect your customers from cybercriminals and spammers. One way to do this is to implement the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) to validate and authenticate your emails.
What is Sender Policy Framework?
Sender Policy Framework(SPF) is an email authentication technique that can protect your email addresses from phishing, spoofing, spamming, and address forging. It is a type of access control mechanism that can help you limit the number and type of people who can use your domain name and IP address to send an email.
SPF tells other email providers, like Gmail, which email servers are permitted to send email using your domain name.
How does SPF work?
The Sender Policy Framework is a mechanism that allows you to protect yourself and your mail recipients by approving which email services/servers can send email from your domain. You can include all the email providers, applications, domains, and IP addresses you use, in a list of authorized senders. When someone receives an email from your company, their email server verifies whether the sending application is an approved and authorized application or not.
So, if a hacker were to use an email service provider or an email address not in your list of approved senders, any mails from that server/sender will be blocked indefinitely. SPF ensures that your customers don't get inundated with spam that looks like you sent it.
Adding an SPF record can improve your email privacy and security
An SPF record is a TXT type DNS record containing the email validation rules for your domain. An SPF record tells the recipient's server which sending server, applications, and addresses are authorized to send email from your domain. SPF records are highly configurable, with multiple qualifiers and modifiers allowing for very dynamic matching rules.
When sending an email, both the sender and receiver's servers open a connection. The sender's server then issues a HELO command that contains it's domain details. Next, a MAIL FROM command is issued, providing the details of the sender's IP address and domain. If these details match the details in the SPF record, the receiver's mail server will allow the email message through. If they don't, the receiving email server will flag the message as spam.
An SPF record is just one of the many security protocols and standards that email service providers can use. However, it offers immense benefits to companies:
- An SPF record acts as an assurance to the mail recipient's server and ISP, proving that your email is coming from a trusted source.
- An SPF record-protected email address will not be blacklisted and won't get caught in the spam filters that the recipient's server may be implementing. This way, all of your communication will be reaching the intended audience.
- An SPF-record approved email address is a lot less attractive to cybercriminals because there's not much they can do with it.
- SPF records reduce the backscattering resulting from hackers trying to abuse and impersonate your IP addresses and domains.
Choose an email service provider who offers SPF policy-protected disposable email addresses
Here's something you probably didn't know – by default, every website domain lacks SPF protection. Failure to configure SPF can compromise your safety when you're sending emails to stakeholders. While you can contact your mail service provider and learn how to implement the SPF standard yourself, it can be a very time consuming and confusing task. It's much easier to choose the best mail forwarding service that already protects its email addresses with SPF records.
At NullBox, we always use SPF to authenticate forwarded emails. Our SPF configuration increases your privacy and the privacy of your mail recipient. With NullBox, you can easily communicate with your customers and other stakeholders, without getting caught in their spam filters.
SPF validated emails help ensure that you don't miss out on any business opportunity. Additionally, you'll protect your email addresses from cybercriminals and spammers and not become an unwitting accomplice to fraud.