Have you ever encountered the issue of being able to send email to everyone in your address book except a select few who never seem to get your mail? The problem could be a missing or invalid SPF record.

 

One of the earliest communication protocols is SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), which most of us know as “email”. It’s pretty much replaced handwritten letters and was the first form of social networking. Nowadays we use it as the core of our online identity and our primary method of communication.

The evolution of email opened the doors for people to pretend to be other people by faking (or spoofing) their email address. Spoof email addresses from legitimate domains (eg freesoftware@microsoft.com) became a real issue as spam grew exponentially every year. In order to protect email from becoming the main carrier for spam, viruses and unwanted communication, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) proposed a solution called the Sender Policy Framework otherwise known as SPF.

SPF is a simple system where a domain (example.com) advertises which servers are allowed to send on its behalf. It works a bit like a VIP list: when a mail server is asked to accept an email being sent to it, the server verifies that the machine sending the mail is on the “VIP list”. If it is, the server allows the mail to go through; if not the email can be rejected or marked as spam and not delivered.

Why is it a problem?

While historically, mail servers have not checked for SPF records or enforced them, SPF is slowly becoming the standard across all mail servers in order to combat spam. More servers are now enforcing SPF records, which means that no one will be able to send email without a valid SPF.

How do I fix it?

If the problem is SPF record related, it can be resolved by adding SPF or TXT record to your DNS zone.

If that last sentence looked like alphabet soup, it’s okay. Setting up your SPF record is relatively simple and our trained System Jedi’s will be happy to help. We can give you clear instructions on how to fix your SPF records with your current DNS hosting provider, or we can do it for you if you’re hosting with us.