Digital keys are the keys to email authentication, which basically means they verify you’re actually the person who sent the email you claim to be. While Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft all offer their own versions of digital keys, the most popular one is DKIM, which stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail. Basically, DKIM is a set of parameters for digital keys, which let email recipients know they are who they claim to be. Because the DKIM keys are stored in servers, the authentication works even if your email is hacked.


DKIM stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail and is used for the authorization of an email from which the sender is ready to be confident. Like SPF, DKIM is an open protocol for email authentication that is utilized to align DMARC. A DKIM record can be found in the DNS, but many parts are more sophisticated than SPF.


DKIM’s chief advantage is that it can go through their forwarding without being diminished by any forwarding and gives a base for making email secure. The DomainKeys  convention became a reality in 2004 after Yahoo and Cisco merged their Identified Internet Mail  initiative. It has since been widely adopted to encourage email security.



What is a DKIM Record?


A domain owner adds a DKIM record, which is a variation of an TXT record, to the DNS records of the sending domain. This TXT record includes a public key which is used by receiving mail servers to verify a message’s signature. It is often given to you by the company that is responsible for your email.


What is a DKIM Signature?


DKIM provides email headers that can be added to an email and included with encryption. Each DKIM signature contains the information needed for an email server to verify the signature is real and is encrypted by a pair of DKIM keys.


The originating email server has the web address known as the private DKIM key, into which the receiving mail server or Internet service provider can check to sign and receive emails. These signatures travel with the emails and are verified by email servers as they travel all the way to the intended recipient.


How does DKIM work?


When an inbound mail server receives a message, it will find the DKIM signature and look up the sender’s public DKIM key in DNS. The variable or DKIM selector provided in the DKIM signature is used to determine where to look up for this key. If the key is found, it can be used to extract the DKIM signature. This is then compared to the values received by the message. If the values match, the signature is authentic and the message has not been altered.


Why use DKIM for Email?


Implementing DKIM for email provides many benefits in regards to email security. 


  • Protection of message integrity is one of the main advantages delivered by using DKIM. 
  • Another result is an increase in domain reputation and email deliverability. 
  • One of the foundational methods of authenticating email for DMARC is DKIM.


What happens when DKIM fails?


The indiscriminate conveyance of an email when DKIM alignment fails or when the d  value in the Header From does not match the d  value in the DKIM signature can cause deliverability issues. Mailbox providers might send the message to the spam folder or send the message that’s blocked completely.


It is essential to inspect all failed messages to identify the origin of the email launch, regardless of whether the sending domain is authentic or false. In addition, take note of any invalid messages which may have been sent out from the DKIM configuration of the domain.



Why DKIM-Only Isn’t Safe Enough


DKIM on its own isn’t reliable enough to authenticate the identity of the email sender and does nothing to prevent the spoofing of the domain visible in the header of the email. DMARC solves the problem by requiring that the overall domain to which the end user addresses a message is properly certified.

In conclusion, DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is a privacy-enhancing feature for PGP encryption. It is a method for adding digital signatures to email messages, making it harder for spam and phishing messages to pass as legitimate emails. DKIM adds digital signatures, the header HTML tag, and the footer text to the message. This signature lets the receiver know that the message is really from the DKIM-trusted domain.

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