CNET's error explaining DKIM

Declan McCullagh, writing in CNET, makes the standard schoolboy error of assuming that email sender authentication technologies are "antispam techniques."

They're not.

DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and other sender authentication technologies are simply ways to detect forgeries. At best, they give a partial indication whether a message is spam or not, but their main use is to allow recipients to look up the reputation of the sending domain.

Detecting phishing attacks via sender authentication depends on legitimate senders, such as PayPal, publishing information in the DNS. An email that purports to come from can then be verified against that published information.

Of course, this doesn’t stop phishers from using similar domains, such as Many users won't notice the difference. A DKIM test will "pass" because the bad actors own the fraudulent domain.

In other words, DKIM alone is almost useless. That's why we also need domain-level reputation services.

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