Everything you need to know about DKIM

Vintage. Old, rustic keys on the table

Email message authenticity can be confirmed using the Domain-Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) email authentication technique. It is a way for email receivers to verify that an incoming message has not been modified during transit and that it is from the domain it claims to be from. 

To put it another way, DKIM works to protect emails from being spoofed and from being altered while being transmitted.

How DKIM works?

DKIM works by using public-key cryptography to generate a digital signature for each outgoing email. Email recipients can use the signature to confirm the email’s legitimacy because it appears as a header in the message. The signature is based on a cryptographic hash of the email content, and it is encrypted using a private key. The corresponding public key is made available in the domain’s DNS records, while the domain owner keeps the private key. 

When an email is received, the email receiver retrieves the public key from the DNS records and uses it to decrypt the signature. The decrypted signature is then compared to a hash of the email content, and if the two hashes match, the email is considered authentic.

Here is an example of how a DKIM signature might look in an email header:

DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/simple; d=example.com; s=dkim; h=From: To:Subject:Date:From; bh=e5l8QRTn5PE5xBxgEbvKz8iTXlaxnLg5ZfRztAJ8IM8=; b=Ilxr18tMjrq3rhIgGtuLQZsJ4YdKeL/1nK/yb3qzwnJT wn0W8Jk3qZYfjKd93pEDRx0xvnaoMNKQEQ0cjzQQk9v5C MyMafjKoeO7W00Ov33yCr1KspDcOgj/9n24q3v+N/ePn0 9x/Rt/vwEexGG/t44nOLA9QWZ5v1xtmFhg=

The message’s header includes a number of fields, including the selector used to locate the public key, the domain that signed the message, the algorithm that produced the signature, and the encrypted signature itself.

One of the main advantages of DKIM is that it gives email recipients a way to confirm the legitimacy of an email message without needing to believe the sender. This helps reduce the risk of email spoofing, phishing, and other types of email-based fraud. In addition, DKIM provides a way for domain owners to take responsibility for their outgoing email and ensure that their email is trusted by recipients.

Implementing DKIM is straightforward and typically involves the following steps:

  1. Generating a private/public key pair: The first step in implementing DKIM is to generate a private/public key pair. This can be done using a tool such as OpenSSL, or by using an online key generator.
  2. Adding a DKIM record to the domain’s DNS: The public key must be added to the domain’s DNS records as a DKIM TXT record. The selector and domain information must also be specified in the record.
  3. Configuring the email server: The email server must be configured to sign outgoing email with the DKIM signature. This typically involves specifying the private key, the selector, and the domain information in the email server’s configuration.
    • Testing the DKIM implementation: Once the email server is configured, it is important to test the DKIM implementation to ensure that it is working as expected. This can be done by sending test emails to a DKIM verification tool.
    • Monitoring the DKIM implementation: Regular monitoring of the DKIM implementation is essential to ensure that it continues to function as expected. This may involve monitoring the email server logs for any errors or issues, and checking the DKIM signature on incoming emails to ensure that it is valid.

Overall, implementing DKIM is an essential step in securing your email and ensuring that it is trusted by recipients. Whether you are a small business owner or a large enterprise, implementing DKIM is a simple and effective way to protect your email from fraud and ensure that your email is delivered to the recipient’s inbox.


Some statistics to back up the importance of DKIM:

  • According to a 2022 survey by the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), phishing attacks increased by 1,270,883 phishing attacks in the third half of 2022 compared to the previous year’s and BEC (Business Email Compromise) attacks are rising like wildfire accounting with 59% wire transferred BEC attacks.
  • And according to google, domains with a valid DKIM signature were less likely to be sent to spam folders compared to domains without a DKIM signature.

As these statistics show, the threat of email-based fraud is real and growing. Implementing DKIM is an important step in protecting your email and ensuring that your email is trusted by recipients. 

So, if you haven’t already, start implementing DKIM right away to start reaping the rewards of a more reliable and secure email system.

To sum up, DKIM is the key to maximizing the potential of your email and ensuring that it reaches its intended destination—directly to the inbox of your recipient. Don’t let email fraud and phishing scams steal the show; instead, use DKIM to give your email the VIP treatment it merits. 

Don’t delay; use DKIM right away to become the email hero your recipients need. Book a free demo!

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