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Email authentication

What is email authentication?

Email authentication is a technique used to prove that an email is not forged.

For example, it provides a way to verify that an email coming from somebody@tcd.ie is actually from that person. Email authentication is most often used to block harmful or fraudulent uses of email such as phishing and spam.

Why is email authentication being enforced?

Trinity, like other large institutions suffers from regular email 'phishing' attacks. 'Phishing' emails are fraudulent emails aimed at getting recipients to divulge important information such as passwords. The 'phished' information can then be used to gain unauthorised access to a system.

The 2021 ransomware attack on the HSE started with a phishing mail.

Email spoofing

Phishing emails generally use a technique called 'email spoofing'.

The phishing email will try to 'spoof' a legitimate Trinity email address like itservicedesk@tcd.ie or hr@tcd.ie and trick you into thinking the email is from a legitimate Trinity email account.

To counter the threat of spoofing, IT Services are implementing email authentication checks that aim to stop the spoofing of Trinity email accounts.

How does this impact me?

If you send email, using a @tcd.ie address, from an official Trinity email service (Student email, Staff email), the email authentication checks will not impact you adversely.

If you send email, using a @tcd.ie address, from a non-Trinity email service (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.), the email may no longer work as expected. Your email may be quarantined or rejected by the receiving mail service.

Third-party services that send email

Some third-party services may have a feature that allows you to send emails. An example would be using a cloud-based product to send marketing emails.

In general, when using third-party services, a non-Trinity email address should be used to send email from the service. If you attempt to send email, from a third-party service, using a @tcd.ie email address, the email will most likely be quarantined or rejected.

As an exception to this, certain third-party services have been approved to be able to send email using a Trinity email address. Please see the below list of approved and non-approved services.

Services that are approved

Services that are not approved

  • Gmail
  • Hotmail
  • Yahoo
  • Outlook.com
  • Sendinblue
  • Blacknight.com

Requesting that a service be 'approved' for use

In general, the requirement to use a '@tcd.ie' email address with a third-party service will only be 'approved' if the service is being implemented as part of a College approved project.

Such projects are usually initiated via IT Services or the Project Management Office.

'Approval' will be granted on a case-by-case basis and is not guaranteed.

For services that are used only by a small number of people, and that are not part of a College approved project, 'approval' will not be granted. In these situations, using a non-Trinity email address is advised.

If you have a service that is being implemented as part of a project, and require further information, please contact the IT Service Desk.