Sunday, June 23, 2024

Organizing IT Chaos through Email Authentication

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Last month I wrote about the growing number of major corporations making use of email authentication to protect their online reputations from phishing, spam and other email-borne threats.

Authentication provides email senders and receivers some additional ways of differentiating legitimate email from spam, phishing and other forms of fraudulent email that threaten the safety of consumer and damage the reputation of the brands whose domain names are abused.

But wait, there’s more!

Undertaking the sometimes daunting task of deploying authentication also provides a great excuse for IT managers to begin tackling the unruly and sprawling beast that is today’s modern corporate email infrastructure.

If your company is like most, it can sometimes be challenging to find the time, money and resources for “spring cleaning.” Major initiatives and infrastructure overhauls do sometimes provide the perfect excuse to sweep out the cobwebs and send old stuff to the scrap heap.

But it can sometimes be hard to justify a project like bringing order to an otherwise functioning yet sub-optimally organized email infrastructure without being able to tie it to some sort of larger project. A project whose urgent need and/or ROI calculations have won broad executive support.

One of the benefits of deploying authentication is that it necessarily requires you to survey – and perhaps rein in – all of the ways the organization uses email. Thus this process provides IT managers with an excellent opportunity to bring some order, or at least some understanding, to what can sometimes be a chaotic mess.

As it turns out, many of the early adopters of advanced email authentication techniques, especially Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM), have discovered that the process of implementing DKIM turned out to be an excellent rationale for finally addressing some of the confusion and legacy weirdness in their email systems.

In order to implement authoritative authentication statements about an organization’s outbound email, it is necessary to have a firm grasp on the full scope of how that organization uses email. You can’t authenticate email sources that you don’t know about, so the process of deploying authentication gives IT managers a reason to crawl through the infrastructure and scrutinize everything.

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In more than a few circumstances, the need to deploy and manage authentication provides excellent justification for upgrading legacy email architecture and consolidating services into a more unified structure. It has reinforced the vital nature of having centralized oversight of email services.

Unlike trying to justify a needed, but not necessarily profitable, “spring cleaning” job, the process of implementing email authentication often carries with it a quickly measurable return on those investments in time and effort.

As I have seen countless times with clients of my company, the process of implementing various reputation-enhancing practices pays bottom-line dividends by resulting in better deliverability and increased effectiveness of email marketing campaigns.

Authentication is already helping some email marketers improve the reliability of their email deliverability, given that a number of major ISPs are weighing the use of authentication in their decisions about filtering and sending mail to “spam” folders.

As time goes on we can expect ISPs to require authentication as a prerequisite to “white-listing,” viewing images in email, and more, making the investment in authentication all the more valuable.

Being able to use the deployment of authentication as a reason for organizing email chaos is a powerful thing, especially when tied to measurable benefits – like tangible bottom-line results for sales through the email channel.

Do yourself a favor and take advantage of this excellent opportunity.

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