2021 has been a tough year in terms of email security attacks and data breaches. Yet through all that, PowerDMARC is proud to receive the certificate of appreciation from Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, in recognition of our sincere efforts and contributions to helping the institution overcome its email security challenges.

Recognizing the Problem 

The educational sector is a prime target for hackers. And it’s not just because of its size—it’s because it’s an industry that shares many of the same vulnerabilities as other sectors. 

One issue we’ve seen is email security. Universities and schools use email as a means of communication, but they also often use it to share information about students and staff members with other school districts or even parents. Unfortunately, this makes email an attractive target for cybercriminals who want to steal personal information about students or staff members for identity theft purposes or other malicious activities such as sending spam emails or installing malware on computers.

In order to help you better understand some of these challenges, we’ve compiled a list of common email security challenges in the educational sector:

1. Lack of understanding of email attack vectors 

2. Inadequate training for staff members on how to respond to threats

3. Inadequate monitoring tools for detecting suspicious activity

Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University was looking to scale up its information security implementations to better protect the data of students and staff members. This was an important step toward ensuring that phishing and spoofing attacks were minimized and that there was no information leakage through email. 

Coming up with a Solution

DMARC is a great solution for educational institutions. It allows institutions to determine whether or not an email sent from a student or faculty member is legitimate. The email will be sent back to the sender with a message stating that the email was not sent from the institution, and if it came from a different IP address, it will also be flagged as suspicious. This will stop phishing attacks on staff accounts, and make it harder for hackers to get into your system.

PowerDMARC’s full-stack email authentication suite was ideal for the university to deploy a well-rounded email protection plan. We made onboarding so much easier with our automated solutions that are built to minimize time and effort while pushing them towards achieving 100% DMARC compliance on emails. 

Minimizing Risk

We heavily recommend organizations implement enforced email authentication policies since relaxed modes offer no protection. But, strict policies come at the risk of legitimate emails getting blocked. 

Our DMARC experts closely monitor such inconsistencies to help institutions shift to p=reject, without compromising on deliverability. 

The future of DMARC and email authentication in the Educational Sector: 2022 [Updated]

PowerDMARC is on a mission to secure the email communications of educational institutions with advanced email authentication solutions like DMARC, SPF, DKIM, MTA-STS, and BIMI. Our API can seamlessly integrate with existing infrastructures, providing whitelabeling opportunities for MSP/MSSPs. 

The future holds new challenges in our way with cybercriminals coming up with evolved tactics to defraud victims, however, putting forth a dynamic email security plan with a multi-tenant dashboard for constant monitoring will continue to reduce the blow. Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University deployed our automated solutions to experience quick results with minimal efforts on their side, and you can too! Don’t believe us? Take a free DMARC trial to test it out yourself!

‘m sure you’ve heard about DMARC, but do you know what it is? This DMARC for Dummies guide is for everyone (technical and non-technical), which will take you through the basics of DMARC in simple English. 

A lot of people over the internet are curious about the concept of information security and email authentication but find the protocols hard to understand and implement. We are assembled here today to make everyone aware of how easy it is to configure DMARC and debunk some common myths surrounding it.  

DMARC explained in plain English

What is DMARC? If we expand the acronym, the term DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. It’s an email security policy that allows email senders to specify policies for how their email should be handled if it’s received by a receiving server.

For example, if you’re using a marketing automation platform, you can set up a rule that says: “If the email comes from Gmail, then accept it.” And then you can set up another rule that says: “If the email comes from Hotmail, then reject it.” This way, if someone gets a reply from Hotmail but not Gmail, they’ll know that their message wasn’t delivered correctly—and they’ll be able to take steps toward fixing it.

It’s also a way for organizations to protect themselves against phishing attacks by making sure that the emails they receive are legitimate.

How does it work?

 If the email is fake, DMARC will let you know.

Here’s how it works: A sender domain (like company.com ) publishes a DNS record with their domain registrar that says what they want their policy to be: what types of emails they will accept and reject, and where those emails should be sent if they’re rejected. Then when someone sends an email on behalf of your company using DMARC, the receiving server checks if there’s a valid policy in place before accepting it. If there isn’t, then the receiving server can either reject or quarantine the message until it gets verified by someone at your company who knows what’s up—or destroyed altogether!

Why should I care about this?

If you’re a business that uses email marketing, you need to know how to implement DMARC correctly. It helps prevent spoofing and phishing, which means that it can protect your customers from getting scammed. It also upholds and maintains your brand’s reputation by ensuring all emails it sends out are legitimate, so people know that they can trust you.

To summarize, 

  • It prevents emails from spoofers, who send out emails pretending to be from your domain
  • It helps protect your brand from phishing attacks by preventing email impersonation
  • It gives you more control over how legitimate emails are delivered to recipients

DMARC for Dummies Guide for Businesses

DMARC Essentials and Preconditions 

At a high level, there are three things you need to do to implement DMARC:

  1. Create a DNS record that points to your email server’s SPF record
  2. Create a DNS record that points to your email server’s DKIM key record
  3. Setup SPF and  DKIM on your email server

Note: It is not mandatory to implement both SPF and DKIM for DMARC configuring. You can implement either of the two, however, both are recommended for enhanced security. If your domain is hosted by an email provider like Office 365 or Google Apps, they may already have one of the required SPF records in place for you—you can check with them if this is the case. You’ll also need to find out what their DKIM key is so that you can add it to your DNS settings.

When you’re ready to implement DMARC, you’ll need to make sure you have the right tools and infrastructure in place.

To get started, you’ll need:

  1. A domain name registrar (like GoDaddy)
  2. A DNS provider (like AWS Route 53)
  3. A mail server that supports SPF and DKIM (like Amazon SES)

Setup and Policy Modes 

To establish email authentication with DMARC at your organization, you need to have a policy record in place on your DNS after you have taken care of the prerequisites mentioned above. 

Given below is an example of one such record: 

Name: _dmarc

Value: v=DMARC1; pct=100; p=none; rua=mailto:[email protected]; 

Each of the tags is significant and points to specific instructions for servers. Let’s break down the few mentioned here: the “v” tag points to the protocol version in use, pct refers to the percentage of emails authenticated (100% in this case), p is the DMARC failure mode or policy at play and the rua tag is the email address to which aggregate reports are to be sent by reporting domains. 

You can create a record specific to your domain, manually, if you’re familiar with the syntax. Else, you can use a free online DMARC record generator tool to assist you in the process. 

While creating your record you MUST mention a policy mode (under the “p=” tag). There are 3 DMARC policies to choose from: 

  • None: You instruct your receivers to accept every email originating from your domain whether they fail or pass domain alignment. Best for novices who are just starting with email authentication. 
  • Quarantine: You instruct your receivers to quarantine emails failing domain alignment so that they can be reviewed later. 
  • Reject: You instruct your receivers to reject every email that fails alignment. If you want protection against spoofing and phishing attacks, this is the policy you should go for. 

Monitoring and Reporting on email delivery failures 

Reporting in DMARC is a feature that allows you to track your email’s authentication status and delivery failures. It is an excellent feature that enables detailed DMARC analysis by extracting email header information. It can also help you identify where your emails are being forwarded and what kind of responses you’re getting from the recipient.

Shown below is a part of a DMARC report to give you an idea about what it may look like.  

As you scroll further down your report, you should be able to see your SPF and DKIM authentication results listed chronologically: 

Each report is sent in the form of an XML file, which means you need to have a fair understanding of extensible markup language to read the data. You may choose to avoid this hassle by utilizing a DMARC report analyzer that automatically parses reports for you to make them human-readable. 

To enable reporting, you need to add the “rua” tag to your record, specifying an email address you want to receive these reports on. Make sure the email address falls within the scope of your own domain and is specifically created for this purpose to avoid cluttering data. 

Industry Support and Spoof Protection 

ESPs that support DMARC include industry giants like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, MailChimp, and more! Industry leaders and experts endorse email authentication as a proven method for reducing direct-domain spoofing and email phishing attacks. This however can only be achieved through an enforced policy. 

It is also important to note that DMARC is NOT a replacement for your antivirus or firewall solutions. It is merely an added layer of security that can better protect your organization against email fraud attacks. For well-rounded protection, pairing up DMARC with your favorite antivirus software or firewall extension is a must!

DMARC unauthenticated mail is prohibited” is a DMARC email rejection error code 550 #5.7.1 that might pop up when sending emails via a specific domain. This article shares detailed information about this error code, the reasons that lead to it, and ways to troubleshoot it.

About DMARC Error Code 550 #5.7.1

DMARC Error code 550 5.7.1 is a non-delivery report (NDR) message that informs the sender that the receiver’s DMARC policy has rejected an email sent from your domain.

The NDR also includes a specific reason phrase reading “DMARC unauthenticated mail is prohibited” – indicating that your email provider was unable to deliver your message to the intended recipient.

This error could be caused by many factors, namely your email program (email reader or mail client), an error in the DMARC record, the method used to send an email, misconfigured mail server, and several others related to your use of email in general.

“DMARC Unauthenticated Mail Is Prohibited”: The Reasons & Their Troubleshooting

Let’s do a quick run-through of some common reasons for the “DMARC unauthenticated mail is prohibited” issue:

Reason 1: You are sending emails via an unauthorized server 

The DMARC policy states that the email address provider and the email address server should be the same. If they are not, this is considered a policy violation, and your emails will be rejected by most DMARC-protected recipients thereby returning the “DMARC unauthenticated mail is prohibited” message.

When you send an email via an unauthorized server, the message is rejected and therefore unauthenticated by DMARC as it fails to pass SPF and DKIM checks.

For example, if your email claims to be from [youremail]@gmail.com but does not come from Gmail SMTP Server and instead comes from another server (let’s assume from OVH Cloud servers), that email will most probably be considered unauthenticated per DMARC policy.

The reason for this is that the address provider (Gmail) and the email address server (OVH Cloud) are different entities. If DMARC finds that your domain does not own your email address provider (such as Gmail), then it will reject your emails as they fail its checks.

How to troubleshoot?

You can troubleshoot this problem by making sure that both your email address provider and the server where your account is hosted are under one umbrella.

In other words: if you’re using Gmail as your provider and hosting from another provider like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure; or if you’re using Yahoo Mail as a provider but hosting off of Google Apps for work; or if you’re hosting from GoDaddy but providing email addresses via Office 365—these scenarios all fall under an unauthorized server scenario and will cause this error code to appear in the DMARC report.

Reason 2: You are using free domains to relay emails

DMARC policies require that the domain names used in the From: field, the Sender: header, and the Reply-To: header be legitimate domain names. If any of these fields are set to a free mail account such as Gmail or Yahoo, then the “DMARC unauthenticated mail is prohibited” error will occur.

It’s because many email providers like Gmail and Yahoo have strict DMARC rules regarding using their domain names to relay mail. And therefore, they will prohibit your mail if the envelope sender address does not match the domain name of your outbound mail server.

How to troubleshoot?

To troubleshoot the error above, we recommend that you change the header from and reply-to email addresses to a paid service. By setting up your domain for your mailbox, your email will look like [@mycompanyname.com] instead of [@gmail.com]. This will ensure that your emails are not accidentally considered unauthentic per DMARC policy.

You can fix this by first going to your email client’s settings and changing the email address in these fields to your email.

Then, you will need to go through your DNS settings and add a TXT record with a value of:

v=DMARC1; p=reject; sp=reject; rua=mailto:[email protected]; ruf=mailto:[email protected]; fo=0; adkim=s; aspf=rvk

– where [[email protected]] is the email address that you changed earlier in your client’s settings, and where adkim and aspf are any values (such as v for verification or p for policy). 

Reason 3: The SPF configuration is not updated to include all senders

If you’re failing to include all your sending sources in your record, chances are servers will return the “DMARC unauthenticated mail is prohibited” error message for your emails. SPF is a standard used to determine if an email has come from the actual source it claims to have originated from.

In this case, DMARC will check the SPF records for the hostname listed in the From field of an email against those published in DNS by the domain owner.

If there is no match or if there are multiple matches, then DMARC will reject that email as being spoofed and potentially fraudulent.

This means that if you’re using Outlook and you want to send emails from your domain (say, [yourdomainxyz.com]), you need to configure Outlook so that it includes all subdomains of [yourdomainxyz.com] as valid sources in its SPF record.

This way, when DMARC checks those against its records for your domain’s SPF policy, it won’t find any discrepancies and will accept your message as validly originating from yourself—and not someone else trying to pretend they’re you.

How to troubleshoot?

To troubleshoot this issue, you need to go back to your SPF record and make sure it matches the email host domain name. If you have multiple domains, make sure all of them are included in your SPF record.

For instance, if your email is hosted on Outlook then you have to merge the Outlook’s SPF syntax (spf.protection.outlook.com) in your SPF record to solve the problem:

The following is an example of an Outlook SPF record:

v=spf1 include:spf.protection.outlook.com -all

Reason 4: The sender’s domain is not correctly configured

This error is caused by the recipient’s email server being unable to validate the sender’s SPF record, DKIM signature, or DMARC policy. This can happen for several reasons, including if:

  • the sender’s domain is not correctly configured for SPF or DKIM
  • the recipient’s mail server does not allow for SPF pass-through (which means that it rejects messages from senders that don’t pass SPF validation)
  • the sender has not or improperly set up DMARC records.

Either of these cases can cause the receiving server to return a “DMARC unauthenticated mail is prohibited” error.

How to troubleshoot?

There are several ways to troubleshoot this issue:

1. Verify the SPF and DKIM settings in your domain’s DNS records. To do so, we recommend using the PowerDmarc SPF Record Lookup and DKIM Record Lookup tools. Both of these tools are free and easy to use, and they will give you a clear picture of the errors within your existing records and what your records should look like.

2. If you have verified that your DNS records are correct, then verify that your mail server is configured to send emails using the Authentication-Results header field.

3. If you don’t already have SPF and DKIM records in place, we recommend setting them up with PowerDmarc’s free tools for generating these records:

  •  SPF Record Generator
  • DKIM Record Generator
  • DMARC Record Generator

Reason 5: You might have been blocked by the recipient’s DMARC anti-spam filters.

Another reason behind the “DMARC unauthenticated mail is prohibited” error is the recipient’s email service has blocked your email for violating its DMARC policy.

Sending too many emails (also called mass mailing) in a short period from one source IP address to the recipient is one of the practices that mostly encourage the recipient’s domain to publish a DMARC policy that prohibits emails from that sender.

How to troubleshoot?

Contact the recipient directly and ask them what their current DMARC policy is set up as (they should be able to provide that information). Then ask them if they would be willing to reconfigure their policy so that it accepts emails from your domain, thereby avoiding being flagged as spam as well as evading the “DMARC unauthenticated mail is prohibited” error. 

It’s Time To Put An End To DMARC Errors

DMARC errors like “DMARC unauthenticated mail is prohibited” are common when you’re setting up DMARC on your own. PowerDMARC’s automated DMARC solution will allow you to configure DMARC and get rid of these errors so that you can continue sending emails without any issues.

This automated DMARC configuration service allows you to send emails from your domain and have them delivered to the inbox of your recipients. You can send out marketing emails, notifications, and more without worrying about sending them to spam folders or having them end up in the trash.

Our system will automatically configure your domain’s DMARC settings so that they’re working properly, without all the hassle. Once they’re set up, you can rest assured knowing that your business won’t be blacklisted by spam filters (and no more annoying errors!).

Ready to get rid of the “DMARC unauthenticated mail is prohibited error” from the first implementation? Create a free account now to grab your DMARC trial!

While lucrative, cybercrime has a high barrier to entry. In the past, hackers needed the knowledge and skills to develop their attacks from scratch. However, in recent past, these technical barriers are a thing of the past with the rise of the underground phishing-as-a-service sector. Anyone can now become a cybercriminal with the click of a button if they know where to look and how much they want to spend.

Phishing can be the first step of a sophisticated data-stealing scheme, and it’s still a popular tactic for one simple reason: it works. It’s been there for a long time, but today’s cybercriminals know how to use it in many ways. 

According to FBI statistics, phishing and its variants were the third most common cybercrime in 2017, resulting in roughly $30 million in damages. Phishing assaults significantly increased in 2019. Phishing emails were a leading entry point for ransomware in 2020, accounting for up to 54% of all digital vulnerabilities. Poor user behavior, and the lack of cybersecurity training and enforced authentication protocols were crucial factors that contributed to these alarming statistics.

Learn how to mitigate “no DMARC record found” error here. 

What is Phishing-as-a-Service (PhaaS)?

Phishing-as-a-Service (PhaaS) is a type of organized cybercrime where criminals over the web offer phishing services to others in exchange for money. Phishing is an email fraud variant where criminals send messages masquerading as a legitimate company to trick people into giving them personal information, such as banking details or passwords. PhaaS providers often create fake websites and landing pages that look real, making it even harder for people to spot the scam. 

Phishing-as-a-service is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and PhaaS providers can often bypass security measures like email two-factor authentication. As a result, Phishing-as-a-Service is a growing problem that businesses must be aware of. There are steps that companies can take to protect themselves against it, such as training employees on how to spot phishing emails, using anti-phishing softwares and implementing email authentication protocols. However, as Phishing-as-a-Service providers become more crafty, businesses must be constantly vigilant to protect themselves.

Why is Phishing-as-a-Service a Problem?

For many enterprises, the proliferation of PhaaS bodes danger. Phishing is already a significant security problem; according to Egress, 73% of enterprises have been the target of successful phishing attacks in the previous year. The monetization of phishing kits is just going to exacerbate the situation.

Phishing-as-a-service is a problem since it lowers the barrier to phishing. 

PhaaS has inspired a new generation of cybercriminals to try their hand at phishing by lowering the obstacles to entry, and the return on investment for them is enormous. To send an efficient email, a cybercriminal typically needs to know HTML. They’d also need to understand how to create a website that looks authentic, even while stealing credentials. If someone purchases a phishing kit, these skills are not required to carry out a phishing assault. There is very little time between the conception of an attack and its ‘ fulfillment.’

Even the people who are already executing phishing assaults can benefit from PhaaS. It is because the ability of the perpetrators typically limits the success of a phishing campaign. But more people will fall for their attacks if they purchase a phishing kit.

PhaaS also makes it more challenging to prosecute phishing attempts.

It allows people skilled at creating phishing kits to earn from the business without conducting any phishing assaults. If a phishing kit user is caught, the person who sold the phishing kit is unlikely to face charges. Thus, the actual cybercriminal can continue to sell similar kits to other people.

How to Mitigate the Phishing Threat?

Phishing, while an old trick, will continue to fool users but you can stay safe by implementing the following best practices:

Train Your Employees

Along with educating your employees about phishing, it is essential to have systems that can protect your business if an employee falls for a phishing scam. For example, you should consider using a spam filter to block suspicious emails from reaching your employees’ inboxes. You should also have a process for reporting suspicious emails so that they can be investigated. Taking these precautions can help keep your business safe from phishing attacks.

Never Click on Suspicious Links

First, be suspicious of any unsolicited emails or texts that claim to be from a reputable organization. Even if the message appears from a known company, never click on links or attachments unless you are sure they are safe. If unsure, go to the organization’s website directly rather than clicking on any links in the message.

Keep Your Anti-virus Software Up-to-date

An anti-virus software can detect and block phishing attacks, but only if it is up-to-date. Outdated software may not recognize the latest phishing scams, leaving you vulnerable to the same attacks. So, check your anti-virus software regularly to ensure it is up-to-date and working correctly. Also, don’t forget to keep your other software up-to-date, such as your operating system and web browser.

Finally, be cautious about giving out personal information online. Phishers can pose as legitimate businesses to trick you into revealing sensitive information. Thus, you should provide your personal information to trustworthy websites only.

Use DMARC to authenticate your emails 

Phishing emails can be kept out of your inbox by email spam filters, but hackers are continually trying to bypass these filters. There is no channel with a more enormous reach than email, which has about 5 billion accounts worldwide. As a result, attackers prefer using email as a route for their harmful intentions.

This is where DMARC steps in to resolve the issues that spam filters can’t. 

DMARC has been designed to combat email spoofing and phishing attacks that are a result of forged business domains. DMARC not only gives you complete visibility into your email channels but also makes phishing attacks apparent. Through constant monitoring and source verification, it can reduce the impact of phishing assaults, prevent spoofing, guard against brand abuse and scams, and protect business email from being compromised. 

Organizations who are not familiar with the details of implementation or want to save deployment time and effort can use our DMARC Analyzer to streamline their deployment process.

Creating a DMARC record for your domain can protect your brand and customers from phishing attacks.

A DMARC record contains four key components:

  • DMARC policy
  • SPF alignment
  • DKIM alignment
  • Reporting options

The DMARC policy specifies how incoming emails should be handled in case of DMARC fail. SPF alignment ensures that emails sent only from authorized IP addresses will pass DMARC checks. DKIM alignment verifies the signing domain for an email. Reporting options specify where DMARC reports should be sent.

Final Words

Both individuals and corporations are vulnerable to phishing. It leads to personal account hacking and business network infiltration. Plus, Phishing-as-a-service exacerbates this problem by letting anyone, regardless of their skill level, carry out such assaults.

PhaaS not only increases the frequency of phishing attacks but also makes each assault potentially more successful. But the good news is there is a way to reduce the blow! The PowerDMARC team can assist you at every step of your DMARC implementation journey to build up your defenses against phishing-as-a-service quicker than any other solution out there!! Take a free DMARC trial today to experience it yourself.

Recent years have seen increased ransomware attacks, infecting computers and forcing users to pay fines to get their data back. As new ransomware tactics such as double extortion prove successful, criminals demand bigger ransom payments. Ransom demands averaged $5.3 million in the first half of 2021, up by 518% over the same period in 2020. Since 2020, the average ransom price has climbed by 82 percent, reaching $570,000 in the first half of 2021 alone.

RaaS, or Ransomware-as-a-Service, makes this attack even more dangerous by allowing anyone to launch ransomware attacks on any computer or mobile device with a few clicks. As long as they have an internet connection, they can take control of another computer, even one used by your boss or employer! But what exactly does RaaS mean? 

What is Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS)?

Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) has become a popular business model in the cybercrime ecosystem. Ransomware-as-a-service allows cybercriminals to easily deploy ransomware attacks without any knowledge of coding or hacking needed.

A RaaS platform offers a range of features that make it easy for criminals to launch an attack with little to no expertise. The RaaS provider will provide the malware code, which the customer(attacker) can customize to fit his needs. After customization, the attacker can deploy it instantly via the platform’s command and control (C&C) server. Often, there is no need for a C&C server; a criminal can store the attack files on a cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

The RaaS provider also provides support services that include technical assistance with payment processing and decryption support after an attack.

Ransomware-as-a-Service explained in plain english

If you have heard about Sofware-as-a-Service and know how it works, understanding RaaS should be a no brainer since operates on a similar level. PowerDMARC is also an SaaS platform as we assume the role of problem-solvers for global businesses helping them authenticate their domains without putting in the manual effort or human labour. 

 

This is exactly what RaaS is. Technically gifted malicious threat actors over the internet form a conglomerate that operates in the form of an illegal business (usually selling their services over the dark web), selling malicious codes and attachments that can help anyone over the internet infect any system with ransomware. They sell these codes to attackers who do not want to do the more difficult and technical part of the work themselves and are instead looking for third parties who can assist them. Once the attacker makes the purchase he can go on to infect any system. 

How does Ransomware-as-a-Service Work?

This form of revenue model has recently been gaining much popularity among cybercriminals. Hackers deploy ransomware on a network or system, encrypt data, lock access to files, and demand a ransom payment for decryption keys. The payment is typically in bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency. Many ransomware families can encrypt data for free, making their development and deployment cost-effective. The attacker only charges if victims pay up; otherwise, they don’t make any money from it. 

The Four RaaS Revenue Models:

While it may be possible to build ransomware from scratch using a botnet and other freely available tools, cybercriminals have an easier option. Instead of risking getting caught by building their tool from scratch, criminals can subscribe to one of four basic RaaS revenue models: 

  • Affiliate programs
  • Monthly subscriptions
  • Bulk sales
  • Hybrid subscription-bulk sales

The most common is a modified affiliate program because affiliates have less overhead than professional cybercriminals who often sell malware services on underground forums. Affiliates can sign up to make money by promoting compromised websites with links in spam emails sent to millions of victims over time. After that, they only need to pay out when they receive ransom from their victims.

Why is RaaS Dangerous?

RaaS enables cybercriminals to leverage their limited technical capabilities to profit from attacks. If a cybercriminal has trouble finding a victim, he can sell the victim to a company (or several companies).

If a cybercriminal finds attacking online targets challenging, there are now organizations that will sell him vulnerable targets to exploit. Essentially, anyone and everyone can launch a ransomware attack from any device without using sophisticated methods by outsourcing their efforts through a third-party service provider, making the entire process effortless and accessible.

How to Prevent Ransomware-as-a-Service Exploits?

In a ransomware-as-a-service attack, hackers rent out their tools to other criminals, who pay for access to the code that helps them infect victims’ computers with ransomware. The sellers using these tools get paid when their customers generate revenue from the infected victims.

Following these steps can help you prevent ransomware-as-a-service attacks:

1. Know the Attack Methods

There are several different ways ransomware can infect your organization. Knowing how attacks are conducted is the best way to protect yourself from them. Knowing how you’ll be attacked can focus on what security systems and protections you need, rather than just installing antivirus software and crossing your fingers. 

Phishing emails are a common path for many cyberattacks. As a result, employees must be aware not to click on embedded links or open attachments from unknown senders. Regularly reviewing company policies around email attachments can help prevent infection by phishing scams and other malware delivery methods like macro viruses and trojans.

2. Use a Reliable System Security Suite

Make sure that your computer has updated security software installed at all times. If you don’t have antivirus software, consider installing one right away. Antivirus software can detect malicious files before they reach their target machines, preventing any damage from being done.

3. Back up Everything Regularly

Having all your information backed up will help prevent the loss of important information if your system becomes infected with malware or ransomware. However, if you get hit by virus or malware attacks, the chances are all of your files will not get regularly backed anyway — so make sure you have multiple backups in different locations just in case one fails!

4. Opt for Phishing Protection with Email Authentication

Phishing emails are extremely common and potent attack vectors in ransomware exploits. More often than not, hackers use emails to try and get victims to click on malicious links or attachments that can then infect their computers with ransomware. 

Ideally, you should always follow the most updated security practices in the market and only download software from trusted sources to avoid these phishing scams. But let’s face it, when you’re a part of an organization with several employees, it is foolish to expect this from each of your workers. It is also challenging and time-consuming to keep a tab on their activities at all times. This is why implementing a DMARC policy is a good way to protect your emails from phishing attacks.

Let’s check out where DMARC falls in the infection lifecycle of RaaS: 

  • Attacker purchases malicious attachment containing ransomware from a RaaS operator 
  • Attacker sends a phishing email impersonating XYZ incorporation  with the purchased attachment to an unsuspecting victim 
  • The impersonated domain (XYZ inc.) has DMARC enabled, which initiates an authentication process by verifying the indentity of the sender 
  • On verification failure, the victim’s server deems the email as malicious and rejects it as per the DMARC policy configured by the domain owner

Read more about DMARC as the first line of defense against ransomware here. 

  • DNS Filtering

Ransomware uses command and control (C2) servers to communicate with the platform of RaaS operators. A DNS query is often communicated from an infected system to the C2 server. Organizations can use a DNS filtering security solution to detect when ransomware attempts to communicate with the RaaS C2 and block the transmission. This can act as an infection-prevention mechanism. 

Conclusion

While Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) is a brainchild and one of the most recent threats to prey on digital users, it is critical to adopt certain preventative measures to combat this threat. To protect yourself from this attack, you can use powerful antimalware tools and email security protocols like a combination of DMARC, SPF, and DKIM to adequately secure every outlet.

DMARC benefits your organization in ways you may have never expected out of an email security protocol! DMARC is a powerful tool that can help businesses protect their reputation and brand from email abuse. It’s important to understand the benefits of DMARC to help you decide if it’s right for your company.

DMARC is a standard that businesses can use to protect their domain from phishing attacks. It also helps to prevent unauthorized emails from being delivered to their inboxes.

Learn more about what is DMARC

Why is DMARC an email security essential?

Before we get to counting down the DMARC benefits, let’s discuss why you should care about your email’s security. DMARC, or Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance, is an email authentication protocol that allows companies to protect their domains from spoofing and phishing attacks.

What does this mean for you? Well, first of all: better security for your email system. DMARC helps you keep your domain safe from malicious senders by verifying the authenticity of incoming emails before they reach your inboxes.

Top 5 DMARC Benefits that will help change your perspective on email authentication

  1. One of the primary DMARC benefits is that it reduces the risk of phishing attacks, which can be devastating for their brand and bottom line. In 2018 alone, phishing scams cost businesses around $6 billion. That’s a lot! DMARC helps to reduce spam by identifying phishing attacks and spam, which can cause damage to your reputation and brand. When an email is marked as spam by DMARC, it will be flagged as such by email providers and services like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, etc., which will make it harder for malicious users and spammers to get their messages through. [[View 2022 phishing stats]]
  2. Another one of the 5 DMARC benefits is that DMARC can also help prevent spoofing attacks by providing a mechanism for email receivers (the “receivers” in DMARC) to reject messages from unauthorized senders or domains with fraudulent headers (i.e., fake sender addresses). Spoofing attacks are an attempt by hackers to impersonate a trusted source in order to trick unsuspecting users into giving up sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. With DMARC, you can protect yourself against these types of attacks!
  3. DMARC helps reduce the number of spam messages that are delivered to inboxes and filters, which saves time and resources by lowering the number of messages employees need to process each day. 
  4. DMARC benefits also include a way to report on any potential email spoofing that might occur—so if you’re receiving emails from a company that isn’t authorized to do business with you, DMARC gives you a way to report it and take action against them. 
  5. If you do have your DMARC at p=reject, however, then any messages that aren’t correctly signed will automatically be blocked by Gmail (and other providers) before they even reach the inboxes of consumers. This means less time spent dealing with complaints about fake emails and more time focusing on growing your business!

Reputational and Deliverability Benefits

DMARC is a great tool for both your brand reputation and email deliverability.

It’s no secret that people are more likely to trust your email if it looks like it came from a legitimate source. DMARC helps you ensure that your emails are being sent from the right domain, and more importantly, that they don’t look like spam.

If you’re using an email marketing solution in conjunction with your website, it’s important that your emails be delivered to the inbox so that you can continue reaching out to potential customers. DMARC helps prevent spoofing of your domain, which means fewer emails going into junk folders or getting filtered out as spam. 

Since you’re already aware of the 5 primary DMARC benefits, the question still lingers…why should you care about this at all?

Why should you care about DMARC at all? 

The DMARC benefits not only your brand but your business as well! Let’s say you send an email from your brand and it gets flagged as spam by a recipient’s email provider because the message wasn’t properly authenticated. That could result in your company being blacklisted by that service provider—and if enough people report the same issue, it could even affect your deliverability rates across the board.

DMARC helps you prevent those situations from happening by making sure everyone knows which emails are yours and which ones aren’t. It also provides helpful reports that show you exactly where your emails are getting lost along the way (so you can fix them!).

When people receive legitimate messages from your domain, they’re more likely to trust those messages and continue engaging with them in the future. This means more sales, repeat customers, and referrals!

PowerDMARC makes DMARC implementation and enforcement so much easier for end-users and MSSPs. It’s a great way to start off your email authentication without the need for any technical knowledge. Create your free account now to start a 15-day DMARC trial with us and test the DMARC benefits yourself!