To end my SPF series, I’m going to consider the following question: what if everyone used SPF? Would it “end” spam?
The answer is, of course, “no, but…”. But, first, let’s understand the question itself.
In “everyone used”, what does “used” mean? If you followed my previous posts on this subject, you’ll know that there are two distinct parts: having an SPF record for your domain, and configuring your SMTP server to reject email purporting to be from an address with a valid SPF record, when it doesn’t come from an authorized server.
Let’s assume that the question implies both.
So, if every legit organization had an SPF record and enforced SPF in their incoming email servers, what would it mean?
It still depends on what was meant by “enforced”. For instance, as it is now, it makes sense to use an SPF record (and reject mail coming from an unauthorized server, as I mentioned before), but not to require an SPF record, as most of the world is still not using it.
If that changed, though… it would certainly make things a lot easier for the “good guys”. Think about it: what does SPF prevent? The faking of sender addresses. Who ever does that? Spammers. Therefore, who has ever a reason not to use an SPF record? Spammers. In a world where every legitimate organization used SPF, having such a record wouldn’t mean that the sender wasn’t a spammer, but not having one would certainly mean that he was. Ergo, reject any mail from a domain without an SPF record, even before verifying whether the origin server is authorized for that domain.
Of course, spammers would adapt, and have SPF records for their own domains. But never again would they be able to fake a sender address. They would never again be able to efficiently pretend to be your internet provider, or your bank, or Facebook, or anything like that. They would have to use their own domains in the sender address… and they don’t exactly tend to look “nice”; besides, they’re not what your ISP or your bank would use.
A world with SPF would mean a world where you could actually trust the “From:” field. Can you imagine such a thing?
- SPF, part 3: configuring Postfix to check SPF records when receiving mail
- Postfix’s log file when using SPF: what it looks like
- SPF, part 1: what is SPF, and how to fight spam with it
- SPF, part 2: how to configure SPF for a domain