RFC 5617

Network Working Group                                          E. Allman
Request for Comments: 5617                                Sendmail, Inc.
Category: Standards Track                                      J. Fenton
                                                     Cisco Systems, Inc.
                                                               M. Delany
                                                             Yahoo! Inc.
                                                               J. Levine
                                                    Taughannock Networks
                                                             August 2009

DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) Author Domain Signing Practices (ADSP)


   DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) defines a domain-level
   authentication framework for email to permit verification of the
   source and contents of messages.  This document specifies an adjunct
   mechanism to aid in assessing messages that do not contain a DKIM
   signature for the domain used in the author's address.  It defines a
   record that can advertise whether a domain signs its outgoing mail as
   well as how other hosts can access that record.

Status of This Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2009 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents in effect on the date of
   publication of this document (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info).
   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
   and restrictions with respect to this document.

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RFC 5617                          ADSP                       August 2009

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction ....................................................3
   2. Language and Terminology ........................................3
      2.1. Terms Imported from the DKIM Signatures Specification ......3
      2.2. Valid Signature ............................................4
      2.3. Author Address .............................................4
      2.4. Author Domain ..............................................4
      2.5. Alleged Author .............................................4
      2.6. Author Domain Signing Practices ............................4
      2.7. Author Domain Signature ....................................4
   3. Operation Overview ..............................................5
      3.1. ADSP Applicability .........................................5
      3.2. ADSP Usage .................................................6
      3.3. ADSP Results ...............................................6
   4. Detailed Description ............................................7
      4.1. DNS Representation .........................................7
      4.2. Publication of ADSP Records ................................7
           4.2.1. Record Syntax .......................................7
      4.3. ADSP Lookup Procedure ......................................9
   5. IANA Considerations ............................................10
      5.1. ADSP Specification Tag Registry ...........................10
      5.2. ADSP Outbound Signing Practices Registry ..................11
      5.3. Authentication-Results Method Registry Update .............11
      5.4. Authentication-Results Result Registry Update .............11
   6. Security Considerations ........................................13
      6.1. ADSP Threat Model .........................................14
      6.2. DNS Considerations ........................................14
      6.3. DNS Wildcards .............................................15
      6.4. Inappropriate Application of Author Domain Signatures .....15
   7. References .....................................................16
      7.1. Normative References ......................................16
      7.2. Informative References ....................................16
   Appendix A.  Lookup Examples ......................................17
     A.1.  Domain and ADSP Exist .....................................17
     A.2.  Domain Exists, ADSP Does Not Exist ........................17
     A.3.  Domain Does Not Exist .....................................17
   Appendix B.  Usage Examples .......................................18
     B.1.  Single Location Domains ...................................18
     B.2.  Bulk Mailing Domains ......................................18
     B.3.  Bulk Mailing Domains with Discardable Mail ................19
     B.4.  Third-Party Senders .....................................19
     B.5.  Domains with Independent Users and Liberal Use Policies ...19
     B.6.  Non-Email Domains .......................................20
   Appendix C.  Acknowledgements .....................................20

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RFC 5617                          ADSP                       August 2009

1.  Introduction

   DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) defines a mechanism by which email
   messages can be cryptographically signed, permitting a signing domain
   to claim responsibility for the introduction of a message into the
   mail stream.  Message recipients can verify the signature by querying
   the Signer's domain directly to retrieve the appropriate public key,
   and thereby confirm that the message was attested to by a party in
   possession of the private key for the signing domain.

   However, the legacy of the Internet is such that not all messages
   will be signed, and the absence of a signature on a message is not an
   a priori indication of forgery.  In fact, during early phases of
   deployment, it is very likely that most messages will remain
   unsigned.  However, some domains might decide to sign all of their
   outgoing mail, for example, to protect their brand names.  It might
   be desirable for such domains to be able to advertise that fact to
   other hosts.  This is the topic of Author Domain Signing Practices

   Hosts implementing this specification can inquire what Author Domain
   Signing Practices a domain advertises.  This inquiry is called an
   Author Domain Signing Practices check.

   The basic requirements for ADSP are given in [RFC5016].  This
   document refers extensively to [RFC4871] and assumes the reader is
   familiar with it.

   Requirements Notation:

      The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL
      in this document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

2.  Language and Terminology

2.1.  Terms Imported from the DKIM Signatures Specification

   Some terminology used herein is derived directly from [RFC4871].  In
   several cases, references in that document to "Sender" have been
   changed to "Author" here, to emphasize the relationship to the Author
   address(es) in the From: header field described in [RFC5322].

   o  A "Signer" is the agent that signs a message, as defined in
      Section 2.1 of [RFC4871].

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   o  A "Local-part" is the part of an address preceding the @
      character, as defined in [RFC5322] and used in [RFC4871].

2.2.  Valid Signature

   A "Valid Signature" is any signature on a message that correctly
   verifies using the procedure described in Section 6.1 of [RFC4871].

2.3.  Author Address

   An "Author Address" is an email address in the From: header field of
   a message [RFC5322].  If the From: header field contains multiple
   addresses, the message has multiple Author Addresses.

2.4.  Author Domain

   An "Author Domain" is everything to the right of the "@" in an Author
   Address (excluding the "@" itself).

2.5.  Alleged Author

   An "Alleged Author" is an Author Address of a message; it is
   "alleged" because it has not yet been checked.

2.6.  Author Domain Signing Practices

   "Author Domain Signing Practices" (or just "practices") consist of a
   machine-readable record published by the domain of an Alleged Author
   that includes statements about the domain's practices with respect to
   mail it sends with its domain in the From: line.

2.7.  Author Domain Signature

   An "Author Domain Signature" is a Valid Signature in which the domain
   name of the DKIM signing entity, i.e., the d= tag in the DKIM-
   Signature header field, is the same as the domain name in the Author
   Address.  Following [RFC5321], domain name comparisons are case

   For example, if the From: line address is bob@domain.example, and the
   message has a Valid Signature with the DKIM-Signature header field
   containing "d=domain.example", then the message has an Author Domain

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RFC 5617                          ADSP                       August 2009

3.  Operation Overview

   Domain owners publish ADSP information via a query mechanism such as
   the Domain Name System; specific details are given in Section 4.1.
   Hosts can look up the ADSP information of the domain(s) specified by
   the Author Address(es) as described in Section 4.3.  If a message has
   multiple Author Addresses, the ADSP lookups SHOULD be performed
   independently on each address.  This document does not address the
   process a host might use to combine the lookup results.

3.1.  ADSP Applicability

   ADSP as defined in this document is bound to DNS.  For this reason,
   ADSP is applicable only to Author Domains with appropriate DNS
   records (i.e., A, AAAA, and/or MX) indicating the possible use of the
   domain for email.  The handling of other Author Domains is outside
   the scope of this document.  However, attackers may use such domain
   names in a deliberate attempt to sidestep an organization's ADSP
   policy statements.  It is up to the ADSP checker implementation to
   return an appropriate error result for Author Domains outside the
   scope of ADSP.

   ADSP applies to specific domains, not domain subtrees.  If, for
   example, an Author Address were user@domain.example, the Author
   Domain would be domain.example, and the applicable ADSP record would
   be at _adsp._domainkey.domain.example.  An Author Address in a
   subdomain such as user@sub.domain.example would have a different ADSP
   record at _adsp._domainkey.sub.domain.example.  ADSP makes no
   connection between a domain and its parent or child domains.

   Note:   If an organization wants to publish Author Domain Signing
           Practices for all the subdomains it uses, such as host names
           of servers within the domain, it does so by creating ADSP
           records for every _adsp._domainkey.<sub>.domain.example.
           Wildcards cannot be used (see Section 6.3.); however,
           suitable DNS management tools could automate creation of the
           ADSP records.

   Note:   The results from DNS queries that are intended to validate a
           domain name unavoidably approximate the set of Author Domains
           that can appear in legitimate email.  For example, a DNS A
           record could belong to a device that does not even have an
           email implementation.  It is up to the checker to decide what
           degree of approximation is acceptable.

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3.2.  ADSP Usage

   Depending on the Author Domain(s) and the signatures in a message, a
   recipient gets varying amounts of useful information from each ADSP

   o  If a message has no Valid Signature, the ADSP result is directly
      relevant to the message.

   o  If a message has an Author Domain Signature, ADSP provides no
      benefit relative to that domain since the message is already known
      to be compliant with any possible ADSP for that domain.

   o  If a message has a Valid Signature other than an Author Domain
      Signature, the receiver can use both the Signature and the ADSP
      result in its evaluation of the message.

3.3.  ADSP Results

   An ADSP lookup for an Author Address produces one of four possible

   o  Messages from this domain might or might not have an Author Domain
      Signature.  This is the default if the domain exists in the DNS
      but no ADSP record is found.

   o  All messages from this domain are signed with an Author Domain

   o  All messages from this domain are signed with an Author Domain
      Signature and are discardable, i.e., if a message arrives without
      a valid Author Domain Signature, the domain encourages the
      recipient(s) to discard it.

   o  This domain is out of scope, i.e., the domain does not exist in
      the DNS.

   An ADSP lookup could terminate without producing any result if a DNS
   lookup results in a temporary failure.

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RFC 5617                          ADSP                       August 2009

4.  Detailed Description

4.1.  DNS Representation

   ADSP records are published using the DNS TXT resource record type.

   The RDATA for ADSP resource records is textual in format, with
   specific syntax and semantics relating to their role in describing
   ADSP.  The "Tag=Value List" syntax described in Section 3.2 of
   [RFC4871] is used, modified to use whitespace (WSP) rather than
   folding whitespace (FWS).  Records not in compliance with that syntax
   or the syntax of individual tags described in Section 4.3 MUST be
   ignored (considered equivalent to a NODATA result) for purposes of
   ADSP, although they MAY cause the logging of warning messages via an
   appropriate system logging mechanism.  If the RDATA contains multiple
   character strings, the strings are logically concatenated with no
   delimiters between the strings.

   Note:   ADSP changes the "Tag=Value List" syntax from [RFC4871] to
           use WSP rather than FWS in its DNS records.

   Domains MUST NOT publish ADSP records with wildcard names.  Wildcards
   within a domain publishing ADSP records pose a particular problem, as
   discussed in more detail in Section 6.3.

4.2.  Publication of ADSP Records

   ADSP is intended to apply to all mail sent using the domain name
   string of an Alleged Author.

4.2.1.  Record Syntax

   ADSP records use the "tag=value" syntax described in Section 3.2 of
   [RFC4871], modified to use WSP rather than FWS.  Every ADSP record
   MUST start with an outbound signing-practices tag, so the first four
   characters of the record are lowercase "dkim", followed by optional
   whitespace and "=".

   Tags used in ADSP records are described below.  Unrecognized tags
   MUST be ignored.  In the ABNF below, the WSP token is imported from

   dkim=   Outbound Signing Practices for the domain (plain-text;
           REQUIRED).  Possible values are as follows:

           unknown   The domain might sign some or all email.

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           all       All mail from the domain is signed with an Author
                     Domain Signature.

                        All mail from the domain is signed with an
                        Author Domain Signature.  Furthermore, if a
                        message arrives without a valid Author Domain
                        Signature due to modification in transit,
                        submission via a path without access to a
                        signing key, or any other reason, the domain
                        encourages the recipient(s) to discard it.

           Any other values are treated as "unknown".


   ; Copyright (c) 2009 IETF Trust and the persons identified as
   ; authors of the code.  All rights reserved.

   ; Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
   ; modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
   ; are met:

   ; - Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
   ;   notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

   ; - Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
   ;   notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in
   ;   the documentation and/or other materials provided with the
   ;   distribution.

   ; - Neither the name of Internet Society, IETF or IETF Trust, nor the
   ;   names of specific contributors, may be used to endorse or promote
   ;   products derived from this software without specific prior
   ;   written permission.


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RFC 5617                          ADSP                       August 2009

        adsp-dkim-tag = %x64.6b.69.6d *WSP "=" *WSP
                        ("unknown" / "all" / "discardable" /
        x-adsp-dkim-tag = hyphenated-word   ; for future extension
        ; hyphenated-word is defined in RFC 4871

4.3.  ADSP Lookup Procedure

   Hosts doing an ADSP lookup MUST produce a result that is semantically
   equivalent to applying the following steps in the order listed below.
   In practice, these steps can be performed in parallel in order to
   improve performance.  However, implementations SHOULD avoid doing
   unnecessary DNS lookups.

   For the purposes of this section, a "valid ADSP record" is one that
   is both syntactically and semantically correct; in particular, it
   matches the ABNF for a "tag-list" and starts with a valid "dkim" tag.

   Check Domain Scope:
      An ADSP checker implementation MUST determine whether a given
      Author Domain is within the scope for ADSP.  Given the background
      in Section 3.1, the checker MUST decide which degree of
      approximation is acceptable.  The checker MUST return an
      appropriate error result for Author Domains that are outside the
      scope of ADSP.

      The host MUST perform a DNS query for a record corresponding to
      the Author Domain (with no prefix).  The type of the query can be
      of any type, since this step is only to determine if the domain
      itself exists in DNS.  This query MAY be done in parallel with the
      query to fetch the named ADSP Record.  If the result of this query
      is that the Author Domain does not exist in the DNS (often called
      an NXDOMAIN error, rcode=3 in [RFC1035]), the algorithm MUST
      terminate with an error indicating that the domain is out of
      scope.  Note that a result with rcode=0 but no records (often
      called NODATA) is not the same as NXDOMAIN.

         NON-NORMATIVE DISCUSSION: Any resource record type could be
         used for this query since the existence of a resource record of
         any type will prevent an NXDOMAIN error.  MX is a reasonable
         choice for this purpose because this record type is thought to
         be the most common for domains used in email, and will
         therefore produce a result that can be more readily cached than
         a negative result.

      If the domain does exist, the checker MAY make more extensive
      checks to verify the existence of the domain, such as the ones
      described in Section 5 of [RFC5321].  If those checks indicate

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      that the Author Domain does not exist for mail, e.g., the domain
      has no MX, A, or AAAA record, the checker SHOULD terminate with an
      error indicating that the domain is out of scope.

   Fetch Named ADSP Record:
      The host MUST query DNS for a TXT record corresponding to the
      Author Domain prefixed by "_adsp._domainkey." (note the trailing

      If the result of this query is a NOERROR response (rcode=0 in
      [RFC1035]) with an answer that is a single record that is a valid
      ADSP record, use that record, and the algorithm terminates.

      If the result of the query is NXDOMAIN or NOERROR with zero
      records, there is no ADSP record.  If the result of the query
      contains more than one record, or a record that is not a valid
      ADSP record, the ADSP result is undefined.

      If a query results in a "SERVFAIL" error response (rcode=2 in
      [RFC1035]), the algorithm terminates without returning a result;
      possible actions include queuing the message or returning an SMTP
      error indicating a temporary failure.

   See Appendix A for examples of ADSP lookup.

5.  IANA Considerations

   ADSP adds the following namespaces to the IANA registry.  In all
   cases, new values are assigned only for values that have been
   documented in a published RFC after IETF Review, as specified in

5.1.  ADSP Specification Tag Registry

   An ADSP record provides for a list of specification tags.  IANA has
   established the ADSP Specification Tag Registry for specification
   tags that can be used in ADSP fields.

   The initial entry in the registry is:

                         | TYPE | REFERENCE       |
                         | dkim | (RFC 5617)      |

              ADSP Specification Tag Registry Initial Values

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RFC 5617                          ADSP                       August 2009

5.2.  ADSP Outbound Signing Practices Registry

   The "dkim=" tag specification, defined in Section 4.2.1, provides for
   a value specifying Outbound Signing Practices.  IANA has established
   the ADSP Outbound Signing Practices Registry for Outbound Signing

   The initial entries in the registry comprise:

                     | TYPE        | REFERENCE       |
                     | unknown     | (RFC 5617)      |
                     | all         | (RFC 5617)      |
                     | discardable | (RFC 5617)      |

          ADSP Outbound Signing Practices Registry Initial Values

5.3.  Authentication-Results Method Registry Update

   IANA has added the following to the Email Authentication Method Name

   Method: dkim-adsp

   Defined In:  RFC 5617

   ptype:  header

   property:  from

   value:  contents of the [RFC5322] From: header field, with comments

5.4.  Authentication-Results Result Registry Update

   IANA has added the following in the Email Authentication Result Name

   Code:     none

   Existing/New Code:  existing

   Defined In:  [RFC5451]

   Auth Method:  dkim-adsp (added)

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   Meaning:  No DKIM Author Domain Signing Practices (ADSP) record was

   Code:     pass

   Existing/New Code:  existing

   Defined In:  [RFC5451]

   Auth Method:  dkim-adsp (added)

   Meaning:  This message had an Author Domain Signature that was
             validated.  (An ADSP check is not strictly required to be
             performed for this result since a valid Author Domain
             Signature satisfies all possible ADSP policies.)

   Code:     unknown

   Existing/New Code:  new

   Defined In:  RFC 5617

   Auth Method:  dkim-adsp

   Meaning:  No valid Author Domain Signature was found on the message
             and the published ADSP was "unknown".

   Code:     fail

   Existing/New Code:  existing

   Defined In:  [RFC5451]

   Auth Method:  dkim-adsp (added)

   Meaning:  No valid Author Domain Signature was found on the message
             and the published ADSP was "all".

   Code:     discard

   Existing/New Code:  new

   Defined In:  RFC 5617

   Auth Method:  dkim-adsp

   Meaning:  No valid Author Domain Signature was found on the message
             and the published ADSP was "discardable".

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RFC 5617                          ADSP                       August 2009

   Code:     nxdomain

   Existing/New Code:  new

   Defined In:  RFC 5617

   Auth Method:  dkim-adsp

   Meaning:  Evaluating the ADSP for the Author's DNS domain indicated
             that the Author's DNS domain does not exist.

   Code:     temperror

   Existing/New Code:  existing

   Defined In:  [RFC5451]

   Auth Method:  dkim-adsp (added)

   Meaning:  An ADSP record could not be retrieved due to some error
             that is likely transient in nature, such as a temporary DNS
             error.  A later attempt may produce a final result.

   Code:     permerror

   Existing/New Code:  existing

   Defined In:  [RFC5451]

   Auth Method:  dkim-adsp (added)

   Meaning:  An ADSP record could not be retrieved due to some error
             that is likely not transient in nature, such as a permanent
             DNS error.  A later attempt is unlikely to produce a final

6.  Security Considerations

   Security considerations in the ADSP are mostly related to attempts on
   the part of malicious senders to represent themselves as Authors for
   whom they are not authorized to send mail, often in an attempt to
   defraud either the recipient or an Alleged Author.

   Additional security considerations regarding Author Domain Signing
   Practices are found in the DKIM threat analysis [RFC4686].

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6.1.  ADSP Threat Model

   Email recipients often have a core set of content Authors that they
   already trust.  Common examples include financial institutions with
   which they have an existing relationship and Internet web transaction
   sites with which they conduct business.

   Email abuse often seeks to exploit a legitimate email Author's name-
   recognition among recipients by using the Author's domain name in the
   From: header field.  Especially since many popular Mail User Agents
   (MUAs) do not display the Author's email address, there is no
   empirical evidence of the extent that this particular unauthorized
   use of a domain name contributes to recipient deception or that
   eliminating it will have significant effect.

   However, closing this potential exploit could facilitate some types
   of optimized processing by receive-side message filtering engines,
   since it could permit them to maintain higher-confidence assertions
   about From: header field uses of a domain when the occurrence is

   Unauthorized uses of domain names occur elsewhere in messages, as do
   unauthorized uses of organizations' names.  These attacks are outside
   the scope of this specification.

   ADSP does not provide any benefit -- nor, indeed, have any effect at
   all -- unless an external system acts upon the verdict, either by
   treating the message differently during the delivery process or by
   showing some indicator to the end recipient.  Such a system is out of
   scope for this specification.

   ADSP checkers may perform multiple DNS lookups per Alleged Author
   Domain.  Since these lookups are driven by domain names in email
   message headers of possibly fraudulent email, legitimate ADSP
   checkers can become participants in traffic multiplication attacks on
   domains that appear in fraudulent email.

6.2.  DNS Considerations

   An attacker might attack the DNS infrastructure in an attempt to
   impersonate ADSP records to influence a receiver's decision on how it
   will handle mail.  However, such an attacker is more likely to attack
   at a higher level, e.g., redirecting A or MX record lookups in order
   to capture traffic that was legitimately intended for the target
   domain.  These DNS security issues are addressed by DNSSEC [RFC4033].

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RFC 5617                          ADSP                       August 2009

   Because ADSP operates within the framework of the legacy email
   system, the default result in the absence of an ADSP record is that
   the domain does not sign all of its messages.  It is therefore
   important that the ADSP clients distinguish a DNS failure such as
   "SERVFAIL" from other DNS errors so that appropriate actions can be

6.3.  DNS Wildcards

   DNS wildcards (described in [RFC4592]) that exist in the DNS
   hierarchy at or above the domain being checked interfere with the
   ability to verify the scope of the ADSP check described in
   Section 4.3.  For example, a wildcard record for *.domain.example
   makes all subdomains such as foo.domain.example exist in the DNS.
   Domains that intend to make active use of ADSP by publishing a
   practice other than unknown are advised to avoid the use of wildcards
   in their hierarchy.

   If a domain contains wildcards, then any name that matches the
   wildcard can appear to be a valid mail domain eligible for ADSP.  But
   the "_adsp._domainkey." prefix on ADSP records does not allow
   publication of wildcard records that cover ADSP records without also
   covering non-ADSP records, nor does it allow publication of wildcard
   records that cover non-ADSP records without also covering ADSP
   records.  A domain that uses ADSP practices other than unknown SHOULD
publish wildcard records.

6.4.  Inappropriate Application of Author Domain Signatures

   In one model of DKIM usage, a domain signs messages that are in
   transit through their system.  Since any signature whose domain
   matches the Author Domain is, by definition, an Author Domain
   Signature, it would be unwise to sign mail whose Author Domain is the
   Signer's domain if the mail is not known to meet the domain's
   standards for an Author Domain Signature.

   One such use case is where a domain might apply such a signature
   following application of an Authentication-Results header field as
   described in Section 7.1 of [RFC5451].  This problem can be easily
   avoided either by not applying a signature that might be confused
   with an Author Domain Signature or by applying a signature from some
   other domain, such as a subdomain of the Author Domain.

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RFC 5617                          ADSP                       August 2009

7.  References

7.1.  Normative References

   [RFC1035]  Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - implementation and
              specification", STD 13, RFC 1035, November 1987.

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC4033]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "DNS Security Introduction and Requirements",
              RFC 4033, March 2005.

   [RFC4592]  Lewis, E., "The Role of Wildcards in the Domain Name
              System", RFC 4592, July 2006.

   [RFC4871]  Allman, E., Callas, J., Delany, M., Libbey, M., Fenton,
              J., and M. Thomas, "DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
              Signatures", RFC 4871, May 2007.

   [RFC5226]  Narten, T. and H. Alvestrand, "Guidelines for Writing an
              IANA Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP 26, RFC 5226,
              May 2008.

   [RFC5234]  Crocker, D. and P. Overell, "Augmented BNF for Syntax
              Specifications: ABNF", STD 68, RFC 5234, January 2008.

   [RFC5322]  Resnick, P., Ed., "Internet Message Format", RFC 5322,
              October 2008.

   [RFC5451]  Kucherawy, M., "Message Header Field for Indicating
              Message Authentication Status", RFC 5451, April 2009.

7.2.  Informative References

   [RFC4686]  Fenton, J., "Analysis of Threats Motivating DomainKeys
              Identified Mail (DKIM)", RFC 4686, September 2006.

   [RFC5016]  Thomas, M., "Requirements for a DomainKeys Identified Mail
              (DKIM) Signing Practices Protocol", RFC 5016,
              October 2007.

   [RFC5321]  Klensin, J., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", RFC 5321,
              October 2008.

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RFC 5617                          ADSP                       August 2009

Appendix A.  Lookup Examples

   Assume the example domain publishes these DNS records (in these
   examples, the numbers in parentheses are comments to help identify
   the records, not part of the records themselves):

   aaa.example                  A        (1)
   _adsp._domainkey.aaa.example TXT   "dkim=all"       (2)

   bbb.example                  MX 10 mail.bbb.example (3)
   mail.bbb.example             A        (4)

A.1.  Domain and ADSP Exist

   A mail message contains this From: header line:

   From: bob@aaa.example (Bob the Author)

   The ADSP lookup first identifies the Author Address bob@aaa.example
   and the Author Domain aaa.example.  It does an MX DNS query for
   aaa.example and gets back a NOERROR result with no DNS records.
   (There's no MX record, but since record (1) exists, the name exists
   in the DNS.)  Since that query didn't return an error, the lookup
   proceeds to a TXT DNS query for _adsp._domainkey.aaa.example, which
   returns record (2).  Since this is a valid ADSP record, the result is
   that all messages from this domain are signed.

A.2.  Domain Exists, ADSP Does Not Exist

   A mail message contains this From: header line:

   From: alice@bbb.example (Old-fashioned Alice)

   The ADSP lookup first identifies the Author Address alice@bbb.example
   and the Author Domain bbb.example.  It does an MX DNS query for
   bbb.example and gets back record (3).  Since that query didn't return
   an error, it then proceeds to a TXT DNS query for
   _adsp._domainkey.bbb.example, which returns NXDOMAIN.  Since the
   domain exists but there is no ADSP record, ADSP returns the default
   unknown result: messages may or may not have an author domain

A.3.  Domain Does Not Exist

   A mail message contains this From: header line:

   From: frank@ccc.example (Unreliable Frank)

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   The ADSP lookup first identifies the Author Address frank@ccc.example
   and the Author Domain ccc.example.  It does an MX DNS query for
   ccc.example and gets back an NXDOMAIN result since there are no
   records at all for ccc.example.  The lookup terminates with the
   result that the domain does not exist in the DNS and so is out of

Appendix B.  Usage Examples

   These examples are intended to illustrate typical uses of ADSP.  They
   are not intended to be exhaustive or to apply to every domain's or
   mail system's individual situation.

   Domain managers are advised to consider the ways that mail processing
   can modify messages in ways that will invalidate an existing DKIM
   signature, such as mailing lists, courtesy forwarders, and other
   paths that could add or modify headers, or modify the message body.
   If the modifications invalidate the DKIM signature, recipient hosts
   will consider the mail not to have an Author Domain Signature, even
   though the signature was present when the mail was originally sent.

B.1.  Single Location Domains

   One common mail system configuration handles all of a domain's users'
   incoming and outgoing mail through a single Mail Transport Agent
   (MTA) or group of MTAs.  With this configuration, the MTA(s) can be
   configured to sign outgoing mail with an Author Domain Signature.

   In this situation, it might be appropriate to publish an ADSP record
   for the domain containing "all", depending on whether the users also
   send mail through other paths that do not apply an Author Domain
   Signature.  Such paths could include MTAs at hotels or hotspot
   networks used by travelling users, web sites that provide "mail an
   article" features, user messages sent through mailing lists, or
   third-party mail clients that support multiple user identities.

B.2.  Bulk Mailing Domains

   Another common configuration uses a domain solely for bulk or
   broadcast mail, with no individual human users -- again, typically
   sending all the mail through a single MTA or group of MTAs that can
   apply an Author Domain Signature.  In this case, the domain's
   management can be confident that all of its outgoing mail will be
   sent through the signing MTA(s).  Lacking individual users, the
   domain is unlikely to participate in mailing lists, but could still
   send mail through other paths that might invalidate signatures.

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   Domain owners often use specialist mailing providers to send their
   bulk mail.  In this case, the mailing provider needs access to a
   suitable signing key in order to apply an Author Domain Signature.
   One possible route would be for the domain owner to generate the key
   and give it to the mailing provider.  Another would be for the domain
   to delegate a subdomain to the mailing provider, for example,
   bigbank.example might delegate email.bigbank.example to such a
   provider; in this case, the provider can generate the keys and DKIM
   DNS records itself and use the subdomain in the Author Address in the

   Regardless of the DNS and key management strategy chosen, whoever
   maintains the DKIM records for the domain could also install an ADSP
   record containing "all".

B.3.  Bulk Mailing Domains with Discardable Mail

   In some cases, a domain might sign all of its outgoing mail with an
   Author Domain Signature and prefer that recipient systems discard
   mail without a valid Author Domain Signature in order to avoid having
   its mail confused with mail sent from sources that do not apply an
   Author Domain Signature.  (In the case of domains with tightly
   controlled outgoing mail, this latter kind of mail is sometimes
   loosely called "forgeries".)  In such cases, it might be appropriate
   to publish an ADSP record containing "discardable".  Note that a
   domain SHOULD NOT publish a "discardable" record if it wishes to
   maximize the likelihood that mail from the domain is delivered, since
   it could cause some fraction of the mail the domain sends to be

B.4.  Third-Party Senders

   Another common use case is for a third party to enter into an
   agreement whereby that third party will send bulk or other mail on
   behalf of a designated Author or Author Domain, using that domain in
   the [RFC5322] From: or other headers.  Due to the many and varied
   complexities of such agreements, third-party signing is not addressed
   in this specification.

B.5.  Domains with Independent Users and Liberal Use Policies

   When a domain has independent users and its usage policy does not
   explicitly restrict them to sending mail only from designated mail
   servers (e.g., many ISP domains and even some corporate domains),
   then it is only appropriate to publish an ADSP record containing
   "unknown".  Publishing either "all" or "discardable" will likely
   result in significant breakage because independent users are likely
   to send mail from the external paths enumerated in Appendix B.1.

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B.6.  Non-Email Domains

   If a domain sends no mail at all, it can safely publish a
   "discardable" ADSP record, since any mail with an Author Address in
   the domain is a forgery.

Appendix C.  Acknowledgements

   This document greatly benefited from comments by Steve Atkins, Jon
   Callas, Dave Crocker, Pasi Eronen, JD Falk, Arvel Hathcock, Ellen
   Siegel, Michael Thomas, and Wietse Venema.

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Authors' Addresses

   Eric Allman
   Sendmail, Inc.
   6475 Christie Ave, Suite 350
   Emeryville, CA  94608

   Phone: +1 510 594 5501
   EMail: eric+dkim@sendmail.org

   Jim Fenton
   Cisco Systems, Inc.
   170 W. Tasman Drive
   San Jose, CA  95134-1706

   Phone: +1 408 526 5914
   EMail: fenton@cisco.com

   Mark Delany
   Yahoo! Inc.
   701 First Avenue
   Sunnyvale, CA  94089

   Phone: +1 408 349 6831
   EMail: markd+dkim@yahoo-inc.com

   John Levine
   Taughannock Networks
   PO Box 727
   Trumansburg, NY  14886

   Phone: +1 831 480 2300
   EMail: standards@taugh.com
   URI:   http://www.taugh.com

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