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How To Setup a DNS SPF (Sender Policy Framework) Record

DNS Management SPF Records

Protect your email reputation and combat email spoofing by setting up a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record. It's a type of DNS record that notifies the recipient's mail host which mail servers are authorized to send email from your domain name, making it much more difficult for someone to spoof your email address trying to impersonate you.

This article outlines what you need to know about SPF records and how they can be implemented at HostMonster for Shared hosting. If you use VPS or Dedicated hosting, check out SPF for VPS and Dedicated.

Using SPF Records with Shared Hosting

Each host uses their own set of spam-filtering rules for their incoming mail servers. This means that depending on the rules, one outgoing mail server may be better for delivering mail to host XYZ while another server is better for delivering mail to host ABC. Because we want to keep your delivery rates as high as possible, we use an entire network of servers to send mail so our system can select the mail server best qualified to send a message to its particular destination.

To make it work, we maintain a list of approved servers and IP addresses in the SPF record of hostmonster.com, which is then included in the default SPF record of every domain on our Shared hosting plans. The default record looks like this:

v=spf1 a mx ptr include:hostmonster.com ?all

The record is composed of three parts:

  1. v=spf1 identifies the TXT record as an SPF record.
  2. a mx ptr include:hostmonster.com specifies an approved list of outgoing servers.
    • If you have a non-HostMonster server you want to allow sending mail from, this is where you'll add it. It's also where HostMonster's list of approved outgoing servers is included. (include:hostmonster.com)
    • Third-party email marketing tools often require that you update your SPF record to accommodate their servers.
  3. ?all specifies how hosts should regard servers that are not on the list. There are a few modifiers you can use here:
    • -all "Hard Fail" means reject all mail that isn't on the allowed list.
    • ~all "Soft fail" means accept mail not on the allowed list, but treat it with more scrutiny.
    • ?all "Neutral" means accept all mail; there isn't a policy for servers not on the list. This is the default setting.

Customizing SPF Records

?all is the default setting since we don't know if you'll be using another email service other than HostMonster with your domain name. For a more in-depth look at SPF syntax and mechanisms, see openspf.org.

If you're using another host to send email for your domain, customize your SPF record by adding additional servers and IPs to the second part of the record. And if you want to make your record more strict to defend the domain from email spoofing, adjust the policy for "all."

For example, if you only use HostMonster to send email from your domain and you want to make the sending policy as strict as possible, we recommend using this SPF record:

v=spf1 a mx ptr include:hostmonster.com -all

This record authorizes your website's server and hostmonster's list of outgoing mail servers to send email. All other outgoing mail servers are unauthorized. To add a new SPF record to your domain name, follow the steps in How to add an SPF Record.

How to add an SPF Record

SPF records are added to your Zone File as TXT records. Keep in mind that, by default HostMonster adds an SPF record to your zone file for each domain; so if you want to add another record, it's best to delete the default one from inside your cPanel.

  1. Log in to your HostMonster control panel
  2. Go to the Domains menu at the top and click the Zone Editor sub menu.
  3. Select your domain name from the drop-down.
  4. If you're removing an existing SPF record, scroll down to find it in the TXT record section to find it and click Delete.
  5. To add a new SPF record, enter this information under Add DNS Record at the top of the Zone Editor:
    • Name: Type your domain name (without the www)
    • TTL: 14400
    • Type: TXT
    • TXT Value: This is where you would paste in your new SPF record.
  6. Click Add Record.

You're done!

Knowledgebase Article 100,210 views bookmark tags: email prevent spf spoof spoofing

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