Sender Policy Framework record check or SPF record check refers to the practice of running your domain’s SPF record through online tools that evaluate it and put forward problems that are either making your SPF TXT record invalid or triggering SPF authentication and email delivery issues.
The common issues that pop up during an SPF DNS record check are:
- No results for an SPF record corresponding to the company’s domain name.
- Too many DNS lookups (SPF lookup permerror).
- More than 255 characters.
- Syntax issues (incorrect use of mechanisms, modifiers, and qualifiers).
- Invalid macros.
- Multiple SPF records for a single domain.
- Using DNS type ‘SPF’.
- Errors related to the validity of IPv4 and IPv6 IP address lists.
- Unknown characters/ elements spotted.
- Using +all or ?all mechanism.
- incorrect use of ptr and mx tags.
- Not beginning the SPF record with v=spf1.
- Not enlisting sending sources of outsourced senders.
However, sometimes, companies don’t pay much attention to the ‘SPF check’ exercise once they have created and updated the TXT records to their domains’ respective DNS. But here we are sharing 10 compelling reasons not to overlook this crucial part of SPF monitoring and management.
1. Email Deliverability
Email deliverability means how likely your emails are to be flagged as suspicious by recipients’ mail servers. We have to agree that technology has evolved manifold over the past decades, yet, just like everything else, it still lags or has some downsides.
So, in the case of email authentication, sometimes messages sent by authorized sending sources are misjudged and flagged as potentially fraudulent. However, with regular SPF record checks, you can ensure all the valid sending sources are a part of it.
2. Low False Positives
Low false positive rates give you the confidence to shift from SPF softfail to SPF hardfail. The former SPF fail-type instructs receivers’ servers to mark suspicious messages as spam, while the latter directs them to reject the entry of such messages.
Although SPF hardfail is stricter and ideal for combating phishing and spoofing, but in case of false positives, its implications cause even genuine messages to bounce back. But with the use of an SPF checker, you have the knowledge and information to process if all the valid IP addresses are allowed to send emails on your behalf.
3. Enhanced Cybersecurity
SPF helps prevent email spoofing, phishing, and BEC attacks by verifying that the sending mail servers are authorized to send emails on behalf of a specific domain. This prevents attackers from using forged or fake sender addresses to deceive recipients.
Image sourced from wallarm.com
In 2023, ransomware attacks impacted over 72 percent of global businesses, signifying a notable surge compared to the preceding five years and marking the highest reported figure. Since 2018, more than half of the respondents in the annual survey consistently acknowledged that their organizations fell prey to ransomware.
4. Better Email Marketing ROI
The success rate of email marketing campaigns is computed based on the click-through, open, and engagement percentages. Your targeted audience is much less likely to interact with emails that have landed in their spam folders, and this possibility comes to a complete zero in case the messages bounce back.
Recipients’ mailboxes and mail servers trust SPF-compliant domains and extract the corresponding SPF record to cross-check if the sender’s email address is officially authorized or not.
5. Improved Customer Services
Imagine you run an e-commerce platform and send out an email to a customer regarding their order status or query with the intention to resolve their issue or inform them about the timely delivery, but they never happen to receive that message!
In this case, you will be judged (or somewhat misjudged) as an ignorant and irresponsible e-commerce platform. So, despite all your efforts in hiring a workforce to be more responsive towards customer queries and updation, you would fail.
You can learn how your emails are transitioning and getting placed in the mailboxes by complying with your domain with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, followed by regular SPF record checks. Dedicating a person or outsourcing the job to an agency that knows how to detect and fix SPF-related issues is advised.
We at AutoSPF resolve the issue of ‘too many DNS lookups’ by offering an advanced, efficient, and automatic SPF flattening service. Our tool automatically compresses your record, which consequently eliminates the need for multiple and frequent DNS lookups to help manage the SPF record alignment for users.
6. Reputation Management
People involved in running your business take a number of steps to steer clear of issues and ensure everything works just the best. However, all it takes is one security loophole to undo all of that and hit your brand.
7. Prevents Delays in Getting Replies
It’s not likely that recipients will regularly check their spam folders to reply to emails that are falsely flagged as suspicious. These communication delays disrupt operational flows and put your brand reputation at stake.
8. Regulatory Compliances
Many regulatory frameworks and industry standards, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), require organizations to implement measures to secure email communications. SPF, along with other email authentication mechanisms, helps organizations meet these compliance requirements.
For example, recently, the PCI SSC (Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council), an organization founded and managed by major payment card brands like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, has announced that by March 2025, it will become a requirement for passing the PCI DSS assessment to be compliant with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.
Regular SPF checks will ensure your SPF record is valid and you comply with regulations.
9. Easy Adaptability to Changing Email Infrastructure
Onboarding and resigning of employees are unavoidable. By making manual SPF checks, you can keep it updated with the sending sources currently engaged in exchanging email messages on behalf of your business and brand. Reflection of these changes promotes easy scalability and enhances cybersecurity.
10. Easy Troubleshooting
Fixing issues becomes easier if you are well-informed about your SPF’s past and current performances. An SPF record checker pinpoints the exact problem-causing element and sometimes also suggests viable solutions.
This saves time and resources, which decreases the downtime and likelihood of a malicious actor taking advantage of your security loopholes.