Advancing Email Security For Gmail And Beyond With BIMI

Creating a secure-by-default experience based on robust defenses has always been a core design principle for Gmail. That’s why we’ve established a strong baseline of security in Gmail, with built-in protections to help automatically filter out potentially malicious messages. While these defenses help keep Gmail users safe, email functions as part of a large, complex, interconnected ecosystem that we continually invest in and work to protect. After first announcing Gmail’s Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) pilot last year, today we’re announcing that over the coming weeks we’re rolling out Gmail’s general support of BIMI, an industry standard that aims to drive adoption of strong sender authentication for the entire email ecosystem. BIMI provides email recipients and email security systems increased confidence in the source of emails, and enables senders to provide their audience with a more immersive experience.

“Bank of America has a wide range of security measures in place to support our customers, and we constantly evolve our program to deliver best in class protection. Part of this effort is our partnership with Google on BIMI, which provides an easy way to validate if correspondence is from us.” — Bank of America

BIMI enables organizations that authenticate their emails using Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)—a standard for providing strong sender authentication that allows security systems to perform better filtering, separating legitimate messages from potentially spoofed ones—to validate ownership of their logos and securely transmit them to Google. BIMI is designed to be easy: for organizations with DMARC in place, validated logos display on authenticated emails from their domains and subdomains.

Here’s how it works: Organizations who authenticate their emails using Sender Policy Framework (SPF) or Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) and deploy DMARC can provide their validated trademarked logos to Google via a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC). BIMI leverages Mark Verifying Authorities, like Certification Authorities, to verify logo ownership and provide proof of verification in a VMC. Once these authenticated emails pass our other anti-abuse checks, Gmail will start displaying the logo in the existing avatar slot.  

“Gmail’s support of BIMI is a win for email authentication, brand trust, and consumers alike. BIMI gives organizations the opportunity to provide their customers with a more immersive email experience, strengthening email sender authentication across the entire email ecosystem.” — Seth Blank, Chair of the AuthIndicators Working Group

This is just the start for BIMI. The standard expects to expand support across logo types and validators. For logo validation, BIMI is starting by supporting the validation of trademarked logos, since they are a common target of impersonation. Today, Entrust and DigiCert support BIMI as Certification Authorities, and in the future the BIMI working group expects this list of supporting validation authorities to expand further. To learn more about BIMI and see the latest news, visit the working group’s website.

To take advantage of BIMI, ensure that your organization has adopted DMARC, and that you have validated your logo with a VMC. For Gmail users, no action is required. We’re proud to be one of the leading members in both establishing and supporting the BIMI standard and will continue to support efforts that contribute to security for the entire email ecosystem.

By: Neil Kumaran (Senior Product Manager, Counter-Abuse Technology) and Wei Chuang (Senior Software Engineer, Gmail Security)
Source: Google Cloud Blog

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