Tools to perform SPF records checks play a pivotal role in email authentication and security by highlighting all the errors and offering you viable solutions. SPF records are TXT records that specify which email servers and IP addresses are authorized to send emails on behalf of a company. The senders’ authenticity and compliance is verified by cross-checking the approved sources.
The Significance of SPF Records
SPF records are warriors positioned against email spoofing and phishing that could otherwise tarnish your business reputation, making you lose clients and prospects. Implementation and management of SPF also support DMARC deployment. DMARC is another effective and advanced email authentication protocol that gives instructions to recipients’ mailboxes on how to deal with illegitimate messages dispatched from your domain.
Why Should You Care to Conduct an SPF Records Check?
As per a report published by The Intersile Consulting Group, they examined as many as 6 million phishing reports between May 1, 2022, and April 30, 2023, only to conclude that .us domains are more prone to phishing attacks. Out of these 6 million examined attacks, 30,000 had .us domain.
But, with SPF-protected domains, the possibility of successful phishing is minimized. So, conduct regular SPF record checks to ensure the following-
Enhanced Email Deliverability
SPF helps transmit legitimate emails to the desired recipients’ primary inboxes instead of having them placed in spam folders or bouncing back. So, all your important conversations and email marketing campaigns will reap benefits.
Improved Email Security
The digital landscape was never a fully safe place, and the situation got scarier post the introduction and integration of AI and machine learning. A robust SPF records check adds an additional layer of security to your email infrastructure and impedes all malicious spoofing attempts.
Protection From Spoofing
Email spoofing deceives recipients into sharing confidential details that hackers misuse to get monetary, political, or business benefits. An SPF records check prevents this by verifying the sender’s identity, making it difficult for malicious people to impersonate your domain.
Maintained Brand Reputation
The news of a company falling prey to a cyberattack spreads like fire amongst the industry and market, impacting your business reputation and sales funnel. Not to mention, competitors are always ready to use these situations to help themselves. SPF records check exercise safeguards your company from a phishing attack in the first place so that nothing follows up.
Why Is Email Authentication Important?
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How to Perform an SPF Records Check?
Let’s delve into understanding the practical aspects of conducting one-
Use SPF Testing Tools
There are multiple online SPF testing tools. Some of the common ones are- MXToolbox, DMARC Analyzer, Kitterman Lookup Tool, etc.
Verify SPF Syntax
Correct SPF record syntax is crucial for SPF records to function as intended. During an SPF records check, ensure that your SPF records are free from syntax errors. Even a minor mistake can lead to email delivery issues.
Check for ‘include’ Mechanisms
If you have outsourced some tasks to a third-party vendor, then use the ‘include’ mechanism to add their sending sources to your SPF record. This ensures emails sent by them on your behalf are considered legitimate.
Regularly Monitor and Update your SPF DNS Records
Email infrastructures change over time, which is more frequently observed in larger organizations. Hence, it’s essential to regularly monitor and update your SPF records to reflect any changes in your email ecosystem. Failure to do so can result in email delivery problems.
Common Issues Detected During SPF Record Checks
Addressing the commonly detected issues promptly reduces the likelihood of a phishing attack in your name:
Missing SPF Records
SPF authentication won’t begin until a valid SPF record is added to your domain’s DNS.
You may come across the following SPF syntax-related issues-
- Capitalization in the use of senders’ IP address list (ipv4 and ipv6).
- Extra dashes before the hard fail mechanism.
- Commas and multiple spaces between each mechanism.
- The SPF record string not starting with v=spf1 (version tag).
- Exceeding the DNS lookup limit of 10.
- Extra + sign in the ‘include’ statement.
Oversized SPF Records
Any SPF record lengthier than 255 characters is considered invalid, causing email security, authentication, and delivery issues.
Lack of ‘Fail’ Directive
The “Fail” directive, indicated by “-all” in an SPF record, specifies what action to take if an email doesn’t match any of the allowed mechanisms. Its absence can lead to a less strict SPF policy, potentially allowing unauthorized emails to go through.
Kitterman SPF Record Check
Kitterman is an online SPF lookup tool where you can enter your domain name, and it will run a query in the DNS to retrieve the published SPF TXT record. This is followed by parsing and analyzing it to highlight errors and provide details about the authorized mail servers for the domain. It also extracts the %d macro for the queried domain name, which is exploited to verify the published SPF record.
What Does Kitterman SPF Do?
Kitterman SPF record checker evaluates information in your SPF DNS record against the following and instantaneously points out mistakes-
- No SPF record published on your domain’s DNS.
- Multiple SPF records published for a single domain.
- Use of ptr mechanism.
- Use of mx mechanism.
- Use of unnecessary ‘include’ statements.
- SPF record exceeding the maximum DNS lookup limit of 10.
- SPF record exceeding the maximum void lookup limit of 2.
- Typos, extra spaces, and dashes.
- Syntax error– incorrect use of mechanisms, qualifiers, and modifiers.
With the integration and advancement of generative artificial intelligence, the digital spectrum has become more vulnerable as hackers are able to develop fool-proof phishing strategies. It’s nearly impossible to read deceptive red flags in the email content because there aren’t any, which is indeed a big problem.
In situations like such, SPF, DKIM, and DMARC ensure fraudulent email messages never show up in recipients’ mailboxes, let alone worrying about what if somebody becomes a victim. So, using a tool to conduct the SPF check process, domain owners are able to fix issues before anyone exploits them to their advantage. AutoSPF helps in the process of SPF flattening, which minimizes the need for DNS lookups and improves email delivery. Try out our services today!