Email Spam Proofing on Dreamhost with DKIM

Short form: Dreamhost showed me how to implement a method of decreasing spam at the domain level called SPF. They implemented another domain level method of reducing spam, DKIM, a few months after I showed them that they hadn’t set up their system properly.

 

Long Form:

Until recently, there was nothing stopping someone from sending email from lee.org illegitimately (called “spoofing” email). A lot of spammers used it to send junk email “from” lee.org. This bothered me because:

  1. spam :-(
  2. Sometimes I’d get thousands of bounced emails
  3. It reduced the assurity that my domain wasn’t hosting spammers, so sometimes real emails I sent would be marked as spam

I talked to Dreamhost support and they showed me how to setup an SPF record for my domain. See here and here on how to do it yourself.

Dreamhost support also suggested I create the emails postmaster@ and abuse@ because “I have seen some cases even though they are very rare cases in which not having these emails set up can cause some problems with servers receiving email.” Ok, sure. So I set those addresses up.

I created an account at postmaster.google.com to periodically check if Gmail is getting any spam from my domain.

I read up on spam-proofing a domain and realized that Dreamhost hadn’t implemented DKIM. Actually, they set it up for my domain but it was left in test mode. Even in Dreamhost’s DKIM example the test flag was set (see “Example of a DKIM Record, they write: k=rsa; t=y; p=GIMfMA0G…). So I had several back and forths with Dreamhost tech support starting in February and yesterday I got an email, “Our devs finally got around to removing the test flag and now DKIM records are properly being served.” Hurray!

In conclusion, you might want to check the headers on your outgoing emails. Look for the “dkim” header. Previously, when my account was still in “test-mode”, headers looked like “dkim=pass (test mode)”. And now they look like “dkim=pass header.i=@lee.org” :-)

2 Comments

  1. Daniel Pastuszek says:

    Sad to say but there are still spam emails being sent out from lee.org from a Rev. Patrick Fisher [info@lee.org] representing someone from the International Monetary Fund if you would like I can forward the copy of the email I had received from this email.

  2. lee says:

    Daniel, I’d love if you could forward the email and most especially the email headers to me! If you don’t know how to send the headers, I can help you with that. If I had to guess, it might be that your email servers don’t pay attention to DKIM and SPF records. But I could be completely wrong, it might be a problem at my/Dreamhost’s end.

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