Is DMARC Required?

If you run an organization that makes use of a substantial amount of email flow on a daily basis, chances are you have already come across the term “DMARC”. So what is DMARC? Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance is your email checkpoint on your receiver’s side that helps you authenticate your outbound emails as well as respond to situations where these emails have questionable legitimacy. DMARC offers several advantages and it is especially useful in today’s world where remote-working environments are being adopted and electronic communication has become the most commonly used method of interaction for businesses. Let’s list down the 5 important reasons why is DMARC required in the context of today:

1) DMARC Helps Mitigate Impersonation Attacks

Ever since the news of the COVID-19 vaccine broke out worldwide in February 2021, cyber attackers took advantage of the situation to create forged emails using authentic company domains, offering vaccine lures to employees and customers. Several users, especially aged citizens fell victim to the lures and ended up losing money. This explains why is DMARC required now more than ever.

A new form of BEC (Business Email Compromise) has recently taken the internet by storm, exploiting loopholes in Microsoft 365’s read receipts and manipulating authentication protocols to evade spam filters and security gateways. Sophisticated social engineering attacks like these can easily bypass robust security measures and trick unsuspecting customers into submitting their credentials.

DMARC minimizes the chances of BEC and domain spoofing attacks and helps secure your emails from fraud and impersonation. This is because DMARC works differently than your ordinary integrated security gateways that come with your cloud-based email exchange services, offering a way for domain owners to decide how they want receiving servers to respond to emails failing SPF/DKIM email authentication protocols.

2) DMARC Improves Email Deliverability

When your email domain gets spoofed, your receivers who have been interacting with your brand  for years are the last people to be suspicious of fraudulent activities from your side. Hence, they readily open the spoofed emails and fall prey to these attacks. However, the next time they receive an email from you, even if the message is authentic and from an authorized source they would be reluctant to open your email. This will drastically impact your email deliverability, as well as your company’s email marketing strategies and agendas.

However, DMARC can improve email deliverability by almost 10% over time! DMARC is required for you to remain in complete control of your domain by choosing which messages get delivered to your recipients’ inboxes. This keeps illegitimate emails at bay and makes sure legitimate emails always get delivered without delay.

3) DMARC Aggregate Reports Help You Gain Visibility

DMARC Aggregate reports can help you view your authentication results and mitigate errors in email delivery at a faster pace. It helps you gain insight on sending sources and IP addresses that are sending emails on behalf of your domain and failing authentication. This helps you track down malicious IP addresses as well, explaining why is DMARC required.

PowerDMARC’s DMARC aggregate reports are available in 7 distinctive views on the platform that helps you gain an unfiltered perspective on your email sending sources and hostnames, like never before! Additionally, we provide you with the option to instantly convert your DMARC reports into PDF documents that you can share with your whole team, as well as create a schedule for them to be emailed to you at regular intervals.

4) DMARC Forensic Reports Help You Respond to Forensic Incidents

DMARC forensic reports are generated whenever a forensic incident is triggered, such as when the outbound email fails SPF or DKIM authentication. Such an incident may be triggered in case of domain spoofing attacks when an email domain is forged by an impersonator using a malicious IP address to send a fraudulent message to an unsuspecting receiver that appears to be coming from an authentic source they know and can trust. Forensic reports provide in-detail analysis of malicious sources that may have attempted to spoof you, so that you can take action against them and prevent future incidents.

Note that forensic reports are highly detailed and may contain your mail body. However, you can avoid disclosing your email contents while viewing your DMARC forensic reports by encrypting your reports with a private key that only you have access to, with PowerDMARC.

5) DMARC Helps Improve Your Domain Reputation

A good domain reputation is like a feather in your cap, as the domain owner. A good domain reputation indicates to receiving email servers that your emails are legitimate and from reliable sources and hence are less likely to be marked as spam or land up in the junk folder. DMARC helps you improve your domain reputation by validating your message sources and indicates that your domain has extended support towards secure protocols by implementing standard email authentication practices like SPF and DKIM.

With this, it is evident why is DMARC required, and can prove to be beneficial for your business! So the next step is :

How to Configure DMARC for Your Domain?

PowerDMARC’s DMARC Analyzer can help you implement DMARC in 4 easy steps:

  • Publish your SPF, DKIM and DMARC record in your domain’s DNS
  • Sign up with PowerDMARC to gain access to your DMARC aggregate and forensic reports and monitor your email flow
  • Shift from a policy of monitoring to DMARC enforcement, to gain maximum protection against BEC and spoofing
  • Stay under the SPF 10 lookup limit with PowerSPF

Sign up today for your free DMARC Analyzer and avail of the multiple benefits of DMARC today!

Email spoofing is a growing problem for an organization’s security. Spoofing occurs when a hacker sends an email that appears to have been sent from a trusted source/domain. Email spoofing isn’t a new concept. Defined as “the forgery of an email address header in order to make the message appear to be sent from someone or somewhere other than the actual source,” it has plagued brands for decades. Whenever an email is sent, the From address doesn’t display what server the email was actually sent from—instead it displays whatever domain is entered during the address creation process, thereby raising no suspicion among email recipients.

With the amount of data passing through email servers today, it should come as no surprise that spoofing is an issue for businesses.At the end of 2020,  we found that phishing incidents rose by a staggering 220% compared to the yearly average during the height of global pandemic fears.. Since not all spoofing attacks are carried out on a large scale, the actual number could be much higher. It is 2021, and the problem seems to be only worsening with each passing year. This is why brands are availing of secure protocols to authenticate their emails and steer clear of the malicious intentions of threat actors.

Email Spoofing: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Email spoofing is used in phishing attacks to trick users into thinking the message came from a person or entity they either know or can trust. A cybercriminal uses a spoofing attack to trick recipients into thinking the message came from someone it didn’t. This lets attackers harm you without letting you trace them back. If you see an email from the IRS saying that they sent your refund to a different bank account, it may be a spoofing attack. Phishing attacks can also be carried out via email spoofing, which is a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details (PIN numbers), often for malicious ends. The term comes from ‘fishing’ for a victim by pretending to be trustworthy.

In SMTP, when outgoing messages are assigned a sender address by the client application; outbound emails servers have no way to tell if the sender address is legitimate or spoofed. Hence, email spoofing is possible because the email system used to represent email addresses does not provide a way for outgoing servers to verify that the sender address is legitimate. This is why large industry players are opting for protocols like SPF, DKIM and DMARC to authorize their legitimate email addresses, and minimize impersonation attacks.

Breaking Down the Anatomy of an Email Spoofing Attack

Each email client uses a specific application program interface (API) to send email. Some applications allow users to configure the sender address of an outgoing message from a drop- down menu containing email addresses. However, this ability can also be invoked using scripts written in any language. Each open mail message has a sender address that displays the address of the originating user’s email application or service. By reconfiguring the application or service, an attacker can send email on behalf of any person.

Let’s just say that now it is possible to send thousands of fake messages from an authentic email domain! Moreover, you don’t have to be an expert in programming to use this script. Threat actors can edit the code according to their preference and begin sending a message using another sender’s email domain. This is exactly how an email spoofing attack is perpetrated.

Email Spoofing as a Vector of Ransomware

Email spoofing paves the way for the spread of malware and ransomware. If you don’t know what ransomware is, it is a malicious software which perpetually blocks access to your sensitive data or system and demands an amount of money (ransom) in exchange for decrypting your data again. Ransomware attacks make organizations and individuals lose tons of money every year and lead to huge data breaches.

DMARC and email authentication also acts as the first line of defense against ransomware by protecting your domain from the malicious intentions of spoofers and impersonators.

Threats Involved for Small, Medium and Large Businesses

Brand identity is vital to a business’s success. Customers are drawn to recognizable brands and rely on them for consistency. But cybercriminals use anything they can to take advantage of this trust, jeopardizing your customers’ safety with phishing emails, malware, and email spoofing activities. The average organization loses between $20 and $70 million a year due to email fraud. It is important to note that spoofing can involve trademark and other intellectual property violations as well, inflicting a considerable amount of damage to a company’s reputation and credibility, in the following two ways:

  • Your partners or esteemed customers can open a spoofed email and end up compromising their confidential data. Cybercriminals can inject ransomware into their system leading to financial losses, through spoofed emails posing to be you. Therefore the next time they might be reluctant to open even your legitimate emails, making them lose faith in your brand.
  • Recipient email servers can flag your legitimate emails as spam and lodge them in the junk folder due to deflation in server reputation, thereby drastically impacting your email deliverability rate.

Either ways, without an ounce of doubt, your customer-facing brand will be on the receiving end of all complications. Despite the efforts of IT professionals, 72% of all cyber attacks begin with a malicious email, and 70% of all data breaches involve social engineering tactics to spoof company domains – making email authentication practices like DMARC, a critical priority.

DMARC: Your One-Stop Solution against Email Spoofing

Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) is an email authentication protocol which when implemented correctly can drastically minimize email spoofing, BEC and impersonation attacks. DMARC works in unison with two standard authentication practices- SPF and DKIM, to authenticate outbound messages, providing a way to specify to receiving servers how they should respond to emails failing authentication checks.

Read more about what is DMARC?

If you want to protect your domain from the malicious intentions of spoofers, the first step is to implement DMARC correctly. But before you do so, you need to set up SPF and DKIM for your domain. PowerDMARC’s free SPF and DKIM record generators can aid you in generating  these records to be published in your DNS, with a single click. After successfully configuring these protocols, go through the following steps to implement DMARC:

  • Generate an error-free DMARC record using PowerDMARC’s free DMARC record generator
  • Publish the record in your domain’s DNS
  • Gradually move to a DMARC enforcement policy of p=reject
  • Monitor your email ecosystem and receive detailed authentication aggregate and forensic (RUA/RUF) reports with our DMARC analyzer tool

Limitations to Overcome While Achieving DMARC Enforcement

You have published an error-free DMARC record, and moved to a policy of enforcement, and yet you are facing issues in email delivery? The problem can be far more complicated than you think. If you didn’t already know, your SPF authentication protocol has a limit of 10 DNS lookups. However, if you used cloud-based email service providers and various third-party vendors, you can easily exceed this limit. As soon as you do so, SPF breaks and even legitimate emails fail authentication, leading your emails to land in the junk folder or not being delivered at all.

As your SPF record gets invalidated due to too many DNS lookups, your domain again becomes vulnerable to email spoofing attacks and BEC. Therefore staying under the SPF 10 lookup limit is imperative to ensure  email deliverability. This is why we recommend PowerSPF, your automatic SPF flatenner, that shrinks your SPF record to a single include statement, negating redundant and nested IP addresses. We also run periodical checks to monitor changes made by your service providers to their respective IP addresses, ensuring that your SPF record is always up-to-date.

PowerDMARC assembles a range of email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, DMARC, MTA-STS, TLS-RPT and BIMI to give your domain a reputation and deliverability boost. Sign up today to get your free DMARC analyzer.

Before we get into how to setup DKIM for your domain, let’s talk a bit about what is DKIM. DKIM, or DomainKeys Identified Mail, is an email authentication protocol that is used for verifying the authenticity of outbound emails. The process involves using a private cryptographic key generated by your mail server which signs each outgoing email message. This ensures your recipients can verify that the emails they receive were sent from your mail server and are not forged. This can improve deliverability and help weed out spam. To place it simply an email from a DKIM enabled mail server contains a digital signature or more correctly, a cryptographic signature, which can be validated by the receiver’s email server.

DKIM was created by combining existing technologies like DomainKeys (from Yahoo) and Identified Internet Mail (from Cisco). It has developed into a widely adopted authentication method, which is known as DKIM and it is also registered as an RFC (Request for Comments) by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force). All major ISPs like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo create a digital signature that is embedded in the email header of outgoing emails and validate incoming mail with their own policies.

In the blog we are going to delve into the mechanism used in DKIM to validate your emails and its various advantages, as well as learn about how to setup DKIM for your own domain.

How to Setup DKIM to Protect Your Domain from Spoofing?

The DKIM signature is generated by the MTA and is stored in the list domain. After receiving the email, you can verify the DKIM by using the public key. DKIM as an authentication mechanism that can prove the identity of a message. This signature proves that the message is generated by a legitimate server.

This is especially required since domain spoofing attacks are on the rise in recent times.

What is a DKIM Signature?

In order to use DKIM, you need to decide what should be included in the signature. Typically this is the body of the email and some default headers. You can’t change these elements once they’re set, so choose them carefully. Once you have decided what parts of the email will be included in the DKIM signature, these elements must remain unchanged to maintain a valid DKIM signature.

Not to be confused with DKIM selector, DKIM signature is nothing more than a consortium of arbitrary string values also known as “hash values”. When your domain is configured with DKIM, your sending email server encrypts this value with a private key that only you have access to. This signature ensures that the email you send has not been altered or tampered after it was sent. To validate the DKIM signature, the email receiver will run a DNS query to search for the public key. The public key will have been provided by the organization that owns the domain. If they match, your email is classified as authentic.

How to Setup DKIM in 3 Easy Steps?

In order to implement DKIM easily with PowerDMARC all you need to do is generate your DKIM record using our free DKIM record generator. Your DKIM record is a DNS TXT record that is published in your domain’s DNS. Next you can conduct a free DKIM lookup, using our DKIM record lookup tool. This free tool provides a one-click DKIM check, ensuring that your DKIM record is error-free and valid. However, in order to generate the record, you need to first identify your DKIM selector.

How Do I Identify My DKIM Selector?

A common question often raised by domain owners is how do I find my DKIM? In order to find your DKIM selector, all you need to do is:

1) Send a test mail to your gmail account 

2) Click on the 3 dots next to the email in your gmail inbox

3) Select “show original” 

4) On the “Original Message” page navigate to the bottom of the page to the DKIM signature section and try to locate the “s=” tag, the value of this tag is your DKIM selector. 

DMARC and DKIM

A common question that you may often find yourself asking is whether implementing DKIM is enough? The answer is no. While DKIM helps you encrypt your email messages with a cryptographic signature in order to validate the legitimacy of your senders, it doesn’t provide a way for email receiver’s to respond to messages that fail DKIM. This is where DMARC steps in!

Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) is an email authentication protocol that helps domain owners take action against messages that fail SPF/DKIM authentication. This in turn minimizes chances of domain spoofing attacks and BEC. DMARC along with SPF and DKIM can improve email deliverability by 10% over time and boost your domain reputation.

Sign up with PowerDMARC today to avail of your free DMARC analyzer trial today!

Knowing how to implement DMARC is crucial to an organization’s growth, reputation and security.

Your customer-facing brand is what draws in visitors to your products/services and leads to conversion. Having an impeccable brand reputation can not only place your brand in a position of unmatched credibility, it can also make or break your business. This is where email security and BIMI comes into play. While you are sending out marketing emails to your customers and partners on a daily basis to promote your services, hackers and impersonators can spoof your domain using social engineering tactics, to send malicious emails. These emails get lost among the legitimate ones sent by you, urging unsuspecting clients to open them eventually instigating wire transfers or leading to credential thefts.

Well, the next time your clients receive an email from you, it is natural human instinct that they would be reluctant to even open it even if it is legitimate after being scammed once. Even if you use email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM and DMARC, there is no way for your recipients to know whether an email sent from your domain is legitimate or not. This is why you need Brand Indicators for Message Identification or BIMI that makes way for your receivers to visually identify your brand in their inboxes.

What is BIMI?

When you use Brand Indicators for Message Identification, or BIMI, to verify your email, your subscribers will know you are a legitimate business and are more likely to open your emails. By integrating your brand logo into emails, it acts as a second layer of security that makes recipients less likely to doubt the authenticity of your email. Then, if the email is ever cloned by a spammer, recipients will know it’s fake because your logo won’t be present.

BIMI is nothing but a short set of instructions that can be passed to the email client. BIMI works with different types of email clients and can only work if the receiver has BIMI activated. Much more than just an email authentication protocol, BIMI is an easy-to-implement email marketing solution designed to help you build your brand recognition.

PowerDMARC Logo Mobile

How Can BIMI Help Your Brand?

  • With BIMI every time you send an email, your customers will see your logo in their inbox, reinforcing your image, driving new customer inquiries, and building brand loyalty.
    It’s a great way to get your customers thinking about your brand even when you’re not around.
  • A familiar logo will be recognizable to customers as a brand they have a relationship with. BIMI paved the way for enhancing your brand recall and enhancing your customer’s confidence.
  • A trusted email will instantly catch the attention of recipients. BIMI is a visual identifier that displays your brand’s unique logo making it easy for recipients to identify and trust your brand. Thereby boosting email deliverability.
  • BIMI is an easy way to indicate your message has been authenticated through visual confirmation.

Note: BIMI builds on a foundation of DMARC, giving you more security with your existing DMARC deployment.

Steps to Protect Your Brand from Scammers with BIMI

Before implementing BIMI, there are a few essential requirements that must be met:

1. BIMI Record demands that your domain is DMARC-authenticated at a policy level of enforcement (‘reject’ or ‘quarantine’)

2. You must create and upload an SVG file for your logo as per the BIMI SVG to a server.

3. You need to access your domain’s DNS to publish a new BIMI DNS record.

Sounds complicated? PowerDMARC makes the deployment process simpler for you. With us you no longer have to ponder over complexities in configuring the protocol, instead you can focus on using it to your and your brand’s benefit.

3 Step BIMI Implementation with PowerDMARC

When you sign up for DMARC deployment with PowerDMARC, you’re also getting BIMI implementation on the house. With PowerBIMI implementation of your part is reduced to three basic steps:

  • Shift to a DMARC policy of enforcement (p=reject/quarantine)
  • Upload your BIMI-compliant SVG logo image
  • Generate your BIMI record with our free BIMI record generator.

And voila! You’re done configuring BIMI in the click of a button. In the present situation, Verizon Media Group (Yahoo, AOL etc) support the display of logos if you meet the requirements, and even leading industry players like Gmail are in their pilot program.

Make BIMI a part of your organization’s email security suite today with PowerDMARC, and take your brand recall to the next level. Sign up for free BIMI trial now. SEO Consultancy

Marketers are the designers of brand image, hence they need to be aware of these 5 famous Phishing terms, that can wreak havoc on a company’s reputation.  Phishing is a type of attack vector that involves a website or email that looks as if it is from a reputable organization but is actually created with the intent of gathering sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (also known as Card Data). Phishing attacks are common in the online world.

When your company falls victim to a phishing attack, it can cause brand name harm and interfere with your search engine ranking or conversion rate. It should be a priority for marketers to protect against phishing attacks because they are a direct reflection of your company’s consistencies. Hence, as marketers, we need to proceed with extreme caution when it comes to phishing scams.

Phishing scams have been around for many years. Don’t worry if you didn’t hear about it before, it isn’t your fault. Some say that the cyber scam was born 10 years ago but phishing officially became a crime in 2004. As Phishing techniques continue to evolve, encountering a new phishing email can quickly become confusing, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if the message is legitimate or not. You can better protect yourself and your organization by being alert to these five common phishing techniques.

5 Common Phishing Terms You Need to Know

1) Email Phishing 

Phishing emails are usually sent out in bulk from a domain that mimics a legitimate one. A company might have the email address [email protected], but a phishing company might use [email protected] The goal is to fool you into clicking on a malicious link or sharing sensitive information by pretending to be a real company you do business with.  A fake domain often involves character substitution, like using ‘r’ and ‘n’ next to each other to create ‘rn’ instead of ‘m’.

Phishing attacks are constantly evolving and getting more and more undetectable with time. Threat actors are using social engineering tactics to spoof domains and send fraudulent emails from a legitimate domain, for malicious ends.

2) Spear Phishing 

A spear phishing attack is a new form of cyberattack that uses false information to gain access to accounts that have a higher level of security. Professional attackers have a goal of compromising a single victim, and in order to carry out this idea, they research the company’s social profile and the names and roles of employees within that company. Unlike phishing, Spear phishing is a targeted campaign against one organization or individual. These campaigns are carefully constructed by threat actors with the sole purpose of targeting a specific person(s) to gain access into an organization.

3) Whaling

Whaling is a highly targeted technique that can compromise the emails of higher-level associates. The objective, which is similar to other phishing methods, is to trick employees into clicking on a malicious link. One of the most devastating email attacks to pass through corporate networks is the whaling scam. These attempts at personal gain using powers of persuasion to lower victims’ resistance, tricking them into handing over company funds. Whaling is also known as CEO fraud, as attackers often impersonate people in authoritarian positions such as the CEO of a company.

4) Business Email Compromise 

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a form of cyber crime which can be extremely costly to businesses. This type of cyber attack uses email fraud to influence organizational domains into partaking in fraudulent activity resulting in the compromise and theft of sensitive data. Examples of BEC can include invoice scams, domain spoofing, and other forms of impersonation attacks. Each year an average organization can lose up to $70 million dollars to BEC scams, learn more about 2020 BEC attack statistics. In a typical attack, fraudsters target specific employee roles within an organization by sending a series of fraudulent emails that claim to be from a senior colleague, customer, or business partner. They may instruct recipients to make payments or release confidential data.

5) Angler Phishing 

Many corporations have thousands of customers and receive hundreds of complaints daily. Through social media, companies are able to escape the confines of their limitations and reach out to their customers. This enables a corporation to be flexible and adjust to the demands of its customers. Angler phishing is the act of reaching out to disgruntled customers over social media and pretending to be part of a company. The angler phishing scam is a simple ploy used to trick casual social media users into thinking that a company is trying to remedy their problems when in reality, the person on the other end is taking advantage of them.

How to Protect Your Organization from Phishing and Email Fraud

Your email service provider may come with integrated security packages as a part of their service. These however act as spam filters that offer protection against inbound phishing attempts. However, when an email is being sent by scammers using your domain name to recipient inboxes, like in the case of BEC, whaling, and other forms of impersonation attacks listed above, they won’t serve the purpose. This is why you need to avail of email authentication solutions like DMARC, immediately and shift to a policy of enforcement.

  • DMARC authenticates your emails by aligning them against SPF and DKIM authentication standards.
  • It specifies to receiving servers how they should respond to emails failing authentication checks.
  • DMARC aggregate (RUA) reports provide you with enhanced visibility into your email ecosystem and authentication results and helps you monitor your domains easily.
  • DMARC forensic (RUF) reports give you an in-depth analysis of your DMARC failure results, helping you respond to impersonation attacks faster.

How Can PowerDMARC Help Your Brand?

PowerDMARC is more than just your DMARC service provider, it is a multi-tenant SaaS platform that provides a wide range of authentication solutions and DMARC MSSP programs. We make email authentication easy and accessible for every organization, from small businesses to multinational enterprises.

  • We help you move from p=none to p=reject in no time, so as to protect your brand from impersonation attacks, domain spoofing, and phishing.
  • We help you easily configure DMARC reporting for your with comprehensive charts and tables and RUA report views in 6 different formats for ease of use and amplified visibility
  • We cared about your privacy, so you can encrypt your DMARC RUF reports with your private key
  • We help you generate scheduled PDF reports on your authentication results
  • We provide dynamic SPF flattening solution like PowerSPF so that you never exceed the 10 DNS lookup limit
  • We help you make TLS encryption mandatory in SMTP, with MTA-STS to protect your domain from pervasive monitoring attacks
  • We help you make your brand visually identifiable in your recipient inboxes with BIMI

Sign up with PowerDMARC today to get your free DMARC analyzer tool trial, and shift from a policy of monitoring to enforcement to provide your domain maximum protection against BEC, phishing, and spoofing attacks.