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What is DKIM and how to set it up?


Last updated on Sep 05, 2023

Have you ever wondered how your email provider ensures that the emails you receive are actually from the person or organization they claim to be from? Well, that's where DKIM comes into play.

In this guide, we'll break down DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) in easy-to-understand terms, so you can grasp the importance of this behind-the-scenes email security feature.

What's DKIM, Anyway?

DKIM, which stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail, is like a digital ID card for your emails.

It helps the email receiver (the person getting the email) confirm that the email came from a legitimate sender and hasn't been tampered with along the way.

How Does DKIM Work?

When an email is sent, DKIM gives it a special digital signature. This signature is like a secret code that only the email sender and the email receiver know about. It's created using encryption, which means it's super hard for anyone to forge.

This signature, or DKIM record, has two parts:

  1. A private key: This key is kept super-duper secret by the email sender's email provider.

  2. A public key: This one's accessible by anyone and can be found in a special place called the sender's DNS (Domain Name System). Don't worry; you don't need to know how DNS works right now – just think of it as a digital phone book for the internet.

When the email arrives at the receiver's end, their email server uses the public key to check the DKIM signature. If it's a match, it means the email is legit and from an authorized sender.

Why Does DKIM Matter?

Imagine you're waiting for an essential email, like your dream job offer or a message from a long-lost friend. You'd want to be sure those emails land safely in your inbox, right?

DKIM helps make that happen by reducing the chances of emails ending up in your spam folder.

How to Check If Your Email Has DKIM

Want to know if your email is having the DKIM security? No problem, it's easy to check:

  1. Go to a site called mail-tester, or just click the link.

  2. You'll see a weird-looking email address – don't worry, it's randomly generated.

  3. Copy that email address and send a test email to it using the email you want to check. Make sure you send the test email from the email address (domain) you wish to check the DKIM validation for.

  4. Head back to the mail-tester site and hit the "Check your score" button. You will be redirected to a page showing deliverability insights about your email.

  5. You can expand the email authentication, and you will be shown whether your email has a valid DKIM or not, as shown below.

Setting Up DKIM

Setting up DKIM isn't as straightforward as clicking a button. It varies depending on your email provider. You might need to get in touch with your email provider's customer support to get it done, or ask them for their specific knowledge base link.

However, if you're a business Gmail user (using Google Workspace), and have access to the admin console of your Google Workspace account it's quite easy to setup. You should know your way around the DNS manager for your domain.

Here is the guide to Setup Gmail DKIM record.

In a nutshell, DKIM is like a superhero for your emails, ensuring they reach their destination safely and untouched by shady characters. So, the next time you hit "send," you'll know there's a trusty DKIM signature keeping your email secure.

Setting DKIM is not applicable if you're using a free email account like gmail.com, outlook.com, yahoo.com. You can set up DKIM only if you're using a business email that has your domain attached (i.e, [email protected]).