DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is a widely accepted email authentication and encryption protocol. It was originally designed to authenticate and secure email exchanges between Gmail and Outlook.com, but has since been adopted by large-scale email providers such as Yahoo!, Hotmail, and AOL.
Despite its prevalence, most email marketing platforms do not natively support DKIM. In order to utilize this protocol, marketers must resort to third-party mail servers and software. As a result, there is a substantial amount of room for improvement when it comes to the security and reliability of email communications.
Why Should You Use DKIM?
DKIM provides the following significant advantages:
- DomainKeys Identified Mail is a highly secure and trusted form of authentication.
- It uses public key cryptography and digital signatures to provide a reliable and trustworthy mechanism for identifying and protecting email.
- It allows users to verify the identity of a public and private key holder.
- It can be used to verify the authenticity of email messages and prevent unauthorized modification (spam).
- It provides a mechanism for detecting and preventing email forgery and spamming.
- It supports various authentication methods (username and password, public key, DKIM authentication)
- It is a mature and established standard.
- Version 2.0 of DKIM was published in Dec 2014.
- Version 2.1 was published in Mar 2015.
- Versions 3.0 and 3.1 of DKIM are currently in draft.
- It can be configured to utilize existing email authentication methods (username and password, public key, SPF, etc.).
- It can be used to provide transparency into the authentication methods associated with a particular domain.
- In other words, you can see at a glance which method a given domain is relying on (public key, username and password, or SPF) without having to take time out of your schedule to audit the settings of a mail server.
- DKIM allows users to verify the authenticity of email.
- It provides confidentiality for electronic mail.
- It is an email encryption standard.
Let’s take a closer look at each point. In practice, DKIM is typically used to authenticate email sent from one domain to another. This could be, for example, between a business and a marketing agency, a public relations firm, a website owner and a digital agency, or a government agency and a media company.
Strong Authentication Mechanism
Public key cryptography and digital signatures allow for a strong and unique authentication mechanism because:
- It is based on mathematical algorithms that are practically unbreakable.
- The public keys of the individuals, entities, or organizations that are part of the authentication system are widely available.
- It utilizes domain names as unique identifiers, which makes it easier for users to remember.
- Finally, it is essential to note that since public key cryptography and digital signatures are open standards, they can be freely implemented by anyone.
Resilient Against Forgery
With every additional layer of security, email becomes less vulnerable to forgery. This is because:
- If a spammer tries to forge a message, the recipient will easily be able to notice the inconsistencies and identify the forgery.
- Each layer of security adds another level of effort for the spammer, which makes it more difficult to carry out mass mailings.
- Encryption, digital signatures, and other measures provide confidentiality for electronic mail, which discourages careless sharing of valuable business information.
- A well-designed CAPTCHA will prevent automated spam submissions.
Email messages that are signed with DKIM contain six different kinds of metadata:
This metadata is called the “header,” and it makes up the majority of the data included in a typical email message. In addition to the header, each piece of email also includes a “footer” which consists of three pieces of metadata:
These three pieces of metadata can be used to verify the authenticity of a given email message. If any of these strings change, then the message is said to be “modified.”
In most cases, the sender’s public key is also included in the signed message so that recipients can validate the signature. In other words, DKIM provides a method for recipients to check the authenticity of emails sent from a given sender. If the signed message is valid, then the recipient has no reason to suspect that the message is fake. In fact, it is more likely that the message is what the sender claims it to be.
An Established Standard
DKIM is a widely accepted standard which was originally designed for email providers such as Gmail and Outlook.com. As a result, many large-scale email providers have adopted it, including Yahoo!, Hotmail, and AOL. This means that there are numerous companies, organizations, and websites that already use or have used DKIM to some extent. As of right now, more than 2 billion emails are sent per day.
Many well-established companies like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have committed themselves to using DKIM for all of their email traffic. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) even went as far to say that:
“DKIM is pretty much the definition of an ‘industry standard.’ To the extent that there is such a thing as an ‘industry standard’ for protecting internet communications, it’s DKIM.”
This point should not be understated. It is important to remember that since email is such a fundamental part of digital marketing, the stakes are quite high when it comes to its security and safety. For this reason, industry experts strongly believe that implementing DKIM is an essential part of any email marketing strategy.
How Does AWeber Support DKIM?
The popular email marketing platform AWeber is certainly no stranger to innovation. Over the years, the company has developed a number of unique features that make it stand out from the crowd.
One of the most interesting features of AWeber is its DKIM support. While this is not a new concept, it is quite commonly implemented as a standard measure to prevent email tampering and spam. For instance, AWeber provides an “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of each email that is sent out. When a user clicks on this link, a small window will open up with a list of the products or services that the user has recently subscribed to.
By implementing DKIM, AWeber is taking a substantial step towards strengthening the security and privacy of its users’ emails. Furthermore, since DKIM is an open standard, this means that any email provider that utilizes AWeber’s email interface must also adopt this standard.
The Cons Of DKIM
While there are a number of pluses when it comes to using DKIM, there are also a few things that you should be aware of.