What is DKIM and DMARC and How Do They Affect Email?

04/16/2024 | by Jeff Fowler

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In today’s digital landscape, email communication remains a cornerstone of business operations and personal correspondence. However, with the rise of cyber threats and phishing attacks, ensuring the security and authenticity of emails has become paramount. Two essential tools in this endeavor are DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance). In this article, we will dive into the intricacies of DKIM and DMARC, exploring their functions and their significant impact on email security.

DKIM: Verifying Email Authenticity

DKIM, or DomainKeys Identified Mail, is an email authentication method designed to detect email spoofing and ensure the authenticity of emails. It works by adding a digital signature to the email header, which is generated using cryptographic techniques. This signature is created by the sender’s mail server using a private key associated with the sending domain. Upon receiving the email, the recipient’s mail server can then verify this signature by retrieving the corresponding public key from the sender’s DNS records.

By verifying the DKIM signature, recipients can ascertain that the email was indeed sent by an authorized sender and that its content has not been tampered with during transit. This helps in combating phishing attacks, spam, and other forms of email fraud, thus enhancing email security and trust.

DMARC: Policy Enforcement and Reporting

DMARC, or Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance, builds upon DKIM and SPF (Sender Policy Framework) to provide an additional layer of email authentication and policy enforcement. DMARC allows domain owners to specify how their emails should be handled if they fail authentication checks performed by receiving mail servers.

With DMARC, domain owners can set policies instructing receiving mail servers to quarantine or reject emails that fail authentication, thereby reducing the risk of fraudulent emails reaching recipients’ inboxes. Additionally, DMARC enables domain owners to receive reports detailing email authentication activity, providing valuable insights into unauthorized usage of their domains and aiding in the identification of potential security threats.

The Impact on Email Security

The implementation of DKIM and DMARC has significant implications for email security. By enabling email authentication and enforcing policies to combat phishing and spoofing attacks, DKIM and DMARC help to mitigate the risk of email-based threats. Organizations that adopt these technologies can enhance the trustworthiness of their email communications, safeguarding their reputation and protecting both themselves and their recipients from malicious activities.

Furthermore, the widespread adoption of DKIM and DMARC contributes to the establishment of a more secure and reliable email ecosystem. As more domains implement these authentication measures, the effectiveness of email security protocols improves, creating a safer environment for all email users.


In an era where email-based threats continue to pose significant risks to individuals and organizations alike, DKIM and DMARC serve as indispensable tools for enhancing email security and trust. By implementing these authentication methods, domain owners can verify the authenticity of their emails, mitigate the risk of phishing attacks, and protect their recipients from malicious activities. As the adoption of DKIM and DMARC becomes more widespread, the email ecosystem as a whole stands to benefit from increased security and reliability, fostering greater confidence in electronic communications. If you need assistance setting up DMARC and DKIM to ensure delivery of emails, SandStorm IT is here to help. Feel free to give us a call at 901-475-0275.

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