New Feature: ExchangeDefender Distribution Group and External Contacts
Due to popular demand, we’ve added some new Distribution Group features to our Exchange/M365 Service Manager. The features are all about external (mail enabled) contacts that have a huge presence in the SMB/consulting organizations:
External Contacts or Mail Enabled Contacts are great when you need to give a person an email address on your domain without giving them their own mailbox. This is a very popular feature in SMB/consulting community when it comes to contractors and third parties that already have their own email infrastructure but for compliance (or vanity) purposes they need an email on your domain.
External Contacts allow you to assign an email address on your domain (email@example.com) and automatically forward all their mail to their existing email address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Not only does this feature help save money on licensing costs, it also eliminates the need for the person to setup another account and check mail at a new place.
The upgrade we’re announcing today has to do with External or Mail Enabled contacts as a part of a Distribution Group (Exchange term for “mailing list”): You can now add external email addresses to any internal/external distribution group from the Service Manager at https://support.ownwebnow.com. Now when you try to create or modify a distribution group, your “Add a new member” screen will show your defined external contacts as well!
This is one of the most demanded features in Service Manager, and we hope it serves your business well!
But her (external) emails!
Unfortunately for some, the Internet standards still apply and most service providers are rapidly removing features that have anything to do with external mail forwarding. This is mainly due to rise of SMTP authentication/authorization protocols like SPF, DomanKeys (DKIM) that do not work with the way mail enabled external contacts are implemented in Microsoft Exchange and other email servers. When the mail is being forwarded to the external contact, the From line remains intact so that the recipient can identify the person sending the email (for example, email@example.com). But when the message is forwarded to the external contact, the receiving server will look at the from line and see that the message is from a domain hosted on Gmail but sent from the ExchangeDefender address space (that is obviously not a part of Google Gmail SPF/DKIM record) and depending on configuration might consider that message to be a forgery/spoof/SPAM.
This isn’t an ExchangeDefender issue, or a Microsoft issue, or a Gmail issue, it’s a part of the protocol specification. And while everyone else is making this feature go away (because it can affect server reputation), we’re working on rewriting/improving it. We are currently working on a feature that will rewrite the From line, so when Exchange forwards an email “From: Vlad Mazek <firstname.lastname@example.org>” to an external contact, the recipient will get an email that shows this on the from line: “From: Vlad Mazek <email@example.com>” that will help bypass SPF/DKIM checks on the receiving side.