Strengthening Online Security: Domain-Level Authentication for Website Contact Forms

domain level authentication

domain level authenticationIn the ever-evolving landscape of online communication and security, email and domain name providers are taking a giant leap forward by implementing domain-level authentication requirements for sending emails through website contact forms. The intention is to bolster the overall security of email communications, ensuring that messages originating from websites are legitimate and trustworthy. The problem is, that unaware businesses face the risk of website contact forms failing them completely. Our intention through this blog is to raise awareness of these changes so businesses can ensure the necessary changes are implemented at the domain level and avoid missing important enquiries.

The Need for Enhanced Email Security

As the internet continues to connect individuals and businesses globally, the prevalence of cyber threats has also risen. One common avenue for cyber criminals to exploit is through unsecured email channels. Phishing attacks, spam and other malicious activities often find their way into unsuspecting inboxes, causing potential harm to individuals and organisations alike.

Website contact forms have become susceptible to abuse by malicious actors. By posing as legitimate entities, attackers can exploit these forms to distribute phishing emails, spam or even deploy malware.  To counteract this, introducing domain-level authentication is a crucial step toward fortifying email security. The problem for people and businesses alike, is that major email and domain name providers aren’t formally informing website owners.

The Rise of Domain-Level Authentication

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) and Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) are two widely adopted authentication protocols designed to verify the legitimacy of email senders. While DMARC focuses on enforcing email policy, DKIM uses cryptographic signatures to confirm the authenticity of the sender’s domain.

Email and domain name providers are increasingly integrating these protocols to validate that emails sent through website contact forms genuinely originate from the claimed domain. This minimises the risk of unauthorised use and also adds an additional layer of trust to the email ecosystem.

It’s important to understand that your contact form isn’t broken, visitors will still be able to complete these online forms and send them, the problem is, unless you have updated the SPF record at the domain level it’s unlikely the contact form will be received. If you own the domain name, the necessary change needs to be made at the domain level, so unless your web designer owns the domain this is a change you need to make yourself. Of course, here at Cyber Sushi Design, we’re always available to offer support should you need it!

How Domain-Level Authentication Works

DMARC acts as a policy layer on top of SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM. It allows owners to specify how email messages that fail authentication should be handled. With DMARC, domain owners can instruct receiving email servers to reject, quarantine or deliver messages based on the authentication results.

DKIM involves the use of public-key cryptography to sign outgoing emails. The recipient’s email server can then verify the signature using the public key published in the DNS records of the sender’s domain. If the signature is valid, it confirms that the email has not been tampered with and originates from the claimed domain.

domain name authentication

Benefits of Domain-Level Authentication

  • Reduced Phishing and Spoofing – By ensuring that only legitimate senders can use a domain for sending emails, domain-level authentication significantly reduces the risk of phishing attacks and email spoofing.
  • Enhanced Email Delivery – Emails originating from domains with proper authentication are less likely to be marked as spam by email filters, leading to improved deliverability.
  • Establishing Trust – Website visitors and recipients of contact form emails can have increased confidence that the messages they receive are genuinely from the claimed source, fostering trust in online interactions.
  • Mitigating Brand Impersonation – Businesses can protect their brand reputation by preventing unauthorised parties from sending emails that appear to be from their domain.

Challenges and Considerations

While the implementation of domain-level authentication is a significant step forward, there are challenges and considerations that businesses and website owners need to address:

  • Configuration Complexity – Properly configuring DMARC and DKIM can be complex and misconfigurations may lead to legitimate emails being rejected. Organisations must invest time and resources in understanding and implementing these protocols correctly.
  • Education and Awareness – Website owners and administrators need to be educated about the importance of domain-level authentication and guided through the process of implementation.
  • Ongoing Monitoring – Regular monitoring of authentication reports and adjusting DMARC policies as needed is essential for maintaining optimal email security.

It’s Time To Embrace Domain-Level Authentication – Configure Your Domain Today!

The move toward domain-level authentication for website contact form emails is a commendable stride in the ongoing battle against email-based threats. By enforcing stringent authentication measures, email and domain name providers are not only enhancing the security of online communication but also contributing to the establishment of a more trustworthy digital ecosystem.

As businesses and individuals adapt to these changes, the collective effort to strengthen email security will undoubtedly lead to a safer online experience for everyone.  Embracing domain-level authentication is not just a technological advancement; it’s a commitment to building a more secure and reliable foundation for the future of digital communication. So please share this blog far and wide to ensure website owners with contact forms know the steps they need to take to ensure it’s business as normal.

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