DNS TXT record explained

Domain name system (DNS) records look like small components, but their role is really important. Those small pieces of data accomplish specific purposes. They are key for the Internet’s performance and its permanent interaction with domains.

Here you have what is important to know about the DNS TXT record.

What is the DNS TXT record?

TXT or text records are the ones that have text format data for external sources. This means sources outside domains like yours. Usually, on these records, you can find general domain information but also key data required for validation. Through TXT records, ownership of a domain can be verified, data for e-mailing can be validated, etc. 

This type of record was created for human-readable notes for administrators. But since text has become a common language for machines too, it is readable and understandable for both. This advantage makes DNS TXT records a vital tool for administrators to give instructions to machines through entering text into the DNS. 

How to create a DNS TXT record?

Currently, data, readable specifically by machines, can be included in TXT records too. Texts can have an easy-to-read format for humans and/or very technical stuff.

DNS TXT records comply with different objectives. Based on what exactly you need, you can add them directly to the settings of your domain. Therefore, domains can have multiple TXT records.

Common types of DNS TXT records

A variety of records with different functionality are expressed or entered as DNS TXT records. They have a link in common: security. They are used individually and combined for preventing criminal activity like spamming, phishing, and more. 

  • DKIM, Domain Keys Identified Mail. E-mail signing authentication via cryptography. This is a way to demonstrate messages are sent by a specific domain. The encryption also protects your e-mail content. DKIM works with public and private keys for validating the sender. Using DNS TXT record, the public key is properly published.
  • SPF, Sender Policy Framework records. The E-mail authentication mechanism for mail receivers (servers) to check if messages they get comes from authorized sources. It executes a variety of actions when it detects wrong sender parameters. It’s a way to avoid your domain can be used for spamming.
  • DMARC, Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. This security mechanism shows who is the sender of an e-mail, lowering the number of spam messages. Besides, it informs others outside your organization how you authenticate and manage failed authentication measures. It sends reports of e-mail delivery failures and more.
  • MTA-STS, Message Transfer Agent – Strict Transport Security. Mail security mechanism set up with DNS TXT records. It makes sure the delivery of messages with end-to-end encryption. It also flags your domain’s messages informing you they all are encrypted using a defined protocol and signed through a valid public certificate. It prevents man-in-the-middle attacks against users’ messages. 

What does DNS TXT record is used for?

  • Stating specific information (text format) about hosts.
  • Recording in the DNS, small pieces of data for machines, like instructions for different processes.
  • Verifying domain ownership. Different service providers (software, cloud, SaaS…) will ask you to add a text record in your domain’s settings (DNS zone) for demonstrating the domain is really yours. This confirmation is a regular security measure, and it’s made using DKIM and SPF authentication.
  • Strengthening e-mail security. This objective involves several DNS TXT types, SPF, DKIM, DMARC, MTA-STS.
  • For verifying, authenticating, and security purposes, such DNS TXT records are frequently combined with alternative software to increase their potential.

Structure

Host: domain or hostname for the one you generate the TXT record.

Type: TXT or DMARC, SPF, DKIM… 

TTL: Time-to-live value.

Points to: instructions or information you will find here, depend on the record’s type.

Conclusion

DNS TXT record is a key component of your DNS. Confirmed, small component, with big functionality!

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